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A tribute to slain martyrs in Cleveland

By Ashahed M. Muhammad -Assistant Editor- | Last updated: Sep 8, 2015 - 11:28:55 AM

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(L) Min. Farrakhan comforts one of the young school children at the Tamir Rice memorial (R) A heartfelt note written on a bench where Tamir Rice was killed. Photos: Ashahed Muhammad

CLEVELAND ( - It was a moving scene when Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan and a delegation traveled to the Heritage Middle School parking lot in East Cleveland where Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell were killed.

Some administrators and schoolchildren came out to hear the words spoken by Min. Farrakhan as he laid a wreath near the spot in tribute.

“Sometimes we wonder why? Why should my son or my daughter, my brother, my sister, suffer such and where is God when such could happen—a slaughter—from people who know how to shoot? They are trained to do that; but yet to shoot 137 times, that’s not officers who are sworn to serve and protect. These are rogue killers in the uniform of service,” said Min. Farrakhan on Sept. 4. “How long can we continue to suffer like this without an appropriate response? We ask what can we do against the armed might of an increasingly militarized police force? What can we do? There’s only one Creator and he is the only one who gives life and he also is the ultimate cause of death, but this life is so precious, we have the right to protect it,” the Minister added.

“America is the greatest seller of arms in the world, but Jesus said it best, those who live by the sword will die by the sword. You sow the wind, but you reap the whirlwind. The deaths of Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell must be accounted for. Justice must come, or else.”

Alfredo Williams, the brother of Malissa Williams, is still troubled by the lack of justice in the case. He said many family members are still hurt and could not bring themselves to come to the memorial. He told The Final Call he misses his sister.

“I’m living with this the rest of my life and my family,” said Mr. Williams. “We’re hurt! We’re not going to ever feel the same—never! Go to any city you ain’t going to hear somebody got shot at 137 times! I hate even being here because of the simple fact that it brings back memories. They know what they did … they need to put that bastard away—all of them! All thirteen of them!” Mr. Williams said.

Next the Minister traveled to the place where Tamir Rice was killed. Min. Farrakhan stood with Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir, the slain martyr, at a memorial erected in his honor in the West Cleveland park where he was mercilessly shot down by a police officer. The makeshift memorial contains pictures, paintings, stuffed animals and handwritten tributes.

Young middle school students and a few eighth graders—many of whom were Tamir’s classmates—came outside to hear Min. Farrakhan’s words. Clearly still affected by Tamir’s death, some cried as they stood around the memorial listening to Min. Farrakhan’s words of tribute. He comforted many of them in a loving way and laid a wreath.

“We are here to pay our respects to our little brother Tamir Rice,” said Min. Farrakhan. “I felt the pain of the loss of my little brother, and all of you feel that same pain—especially if you knew Tamir. But I want to say to you that Tamir didn’t die in vain.”

“We lay this wreath, in this place, in honor of Tamir. You don’t know this but Tamir is a martyr and a martyr is one who dies for a cause bigger than himself,” he told the children. “Jesus was martyred on a cross for others, so death sometimes comes in strange ways,” the Minister added.

When Tamir came outside that morning, the Minister said, the 12-year-old didn’t know that would be the last day of his earthly life, but in death he is a symbol of injustice that must be rectified and why respect for life is so important.

“Tamir left us early, but he did something great in his leaving because now they’re talking about Tamir all over the world,” he added.

Samaria Rice was glad the Minister came to visit the memorial because sometimes cases like her son’s tend to vanish once they are no longer in news headlines. Her son’s death was called a human rights and civil rights violation by activists. Ms. Rice joins the ranks of strong Black mothers who have lost their children but continue to fight for justice so no one else has to experience what they have experienced.

Min. Farrakhan and Alfredo Williams, the brother of Malissa Williams. Photo: Robert E. Muhammad

“I’m happy to have as much recognition as possible especially from Minister Farrakhan because he’s well respected across the nation,” said Ms. Rice. 

“A lot of those children played with Tamir and developed a good relationship with him and a bond with him. They loved Tamir,” said Ms. Rice. “They can’t believe it, it’s more like they are still in shock just like I am.”

She is hopeful that justice is coming in the case of her son’s death. She stopped short of calling for the death penalty. At the very least she wants to see her son’s killer in jail for a “substantial” amount of time.

“Anybody that takes anybody’s life like they took my son’s life, and a lot of the lives around this nation, just reacting should go to jail for life.”