WASHINGTON (AA) – A fundraiser for the family of a 12-year-old black boy killed by a white police officer while he played with a toy gun, exceeded its target in less than 12 hours, activists said Friday.
The campaign on Youcaring.com has seen 2,000 donors exceed the targeted amount of $50,000.
“Thousands of people are making it happen and have donated and are doing the hard work to support the family,” Shaun King, one of the campaign organizers told The Anadolu Agency.
“Several organizers on the ground with the family in Cleveland made it clear that Tamir’s (Rice) family was now overburdened not only with the devastating loss of their son and brother, but with the financial burden of a funeral, burial, legal costs, loss of work, and more,” he said.
Tamir was shot and killed last month by a Cleveland police officer as he played with an air pellet gun in a park.
An emergency call to police dispatch reported that someone was pointing a gun at people but that the gun was “probably fake.”
Even after the dispatcher indicated that the gun may be fake, video released by the city’s police department shows officer Timothy Loehmann arriving at the scene and discharging his weapon within “one-and-a-half to two seconds,” said Deputy Chief Edward Tomba. The child was struck in the chest and later died at nearby hospital.
The fundraiser was organized to help cover funeral expenses for Tamir who was buried earlier this week.
Loehmann and his partner were placed on administrative leave for three days after the shooting.
Shortly after the campaign was launched, King tweeted, “Little man. I wish this was a down payment on your tuition, but we got your family covered.”
The fundraiser and funeral for the child takes place amid heightened nationwide tensions about race and the excessive use of police force, especially applied to blacks.
Two separate grand juries in as many weeks have declined to bring charges against white police officers in the killings of unarmed black men.
The decisions have ignited protest, sometimes violent, in major cities across the U.S.
Demonstrators have disrupted traffic on major roadways in Washington, Miami and in New York, where Eric Garner was killed by officer Daniel Pantaleo who used a banned police department chokehold in an attempt to arrest the 43-year-old for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes.
Protestors have also conducted die-ins, and held mock funerals.
In Ferguson, Missouri, protesters are nearing the end of a 120-mile march from the where 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed by white police officer Darren Wilson in August, to the governor’s mansion in Jefferson City. Marchers have reported being subjected to racial slurs and a bus that is traveling alongside marchers has had one of its windows shattered by a bullet.
“People have been pushed to the brink,” King said. “In the United States we have case after case after case of police brutality and police murder of unarmed citizens. These acts alone take their toll, but what has made things so much more personal for people is that our court systems seem determined not to prosecute any of the officers involved in these killings no matter how strong the evidence.”
Since October, various online fundraisers have been organized to help bail out demonstrators who are been jailed by police during the protests.
King likened the wave of protests to the civil rights era where blacks fought for equality among whites.
“What’s happening right now is different. People are not only marching and protesting, but boycotting and fundraising and organizing in amazingly powerful ways,” Kind said. “We honestly see what’s happening in the United States right now as our modern civil rights movement and social media absolutely plays a key role,” he added.
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