For Immediate Release
March 3, 2015
Contact: Celia Neustadt
Baltimore Teen Leaders React to Developments in Tamir Rice Case Inner Harbor Project leaders reflect: "This is why I strive so hard to break the barrier between youth and law enforcement."
Two Youth Executive Leaders from Baltimore's Inner Harbor Project had the following reactions to the news that attorneys representing the City of Cleveland have filed documents that cite 12-year-old Tamir Rice's "failure...to exercise due care to avoid injury" as a cause of Rice's death. Rice was shot and killed by police in November, 2014 while holding a pellet gun.
"Tamir Rice’s death is especially tragic given that he had a whole future ahead of him. I send my sympathy to this young man’s family," said Cheo Thomas, age 18, Youth Executive Leader of the Teen Mediation Initiative. "No child should lose his or her life because of a misunderstanding. Once is too often. Here, at the Inner harbor Project, our training helps police officers communicate with teens so incidents like these don’t happen."
"Reading about the [...] response to Tamir’s death was a very disheartening experience. Yet again, another life has been taken before it had a chance to blossom. Our greatest protector can also be our greatest threat. In today’s world, we often let pride and prejudice stand in the way of truth and cloud our judgment," said Diamond Sampson, age 18, Youth Executive Leader of the Code of Etiquette Initiative. "The only thing that separates one person from the next is our titles."
"This is why I strive so hard to break the barrier between youth and law enforcement by creating a set of fairly enforceable rules. It is the simple things that can reconnect us," Sampson continued. "People often forget it takes a village to raises a child, so even if someone was a possible threat, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. All life is too precious to lose because of a misperception." Recognizing the value of youth's own voices in the public dialogue on issues that impact them is central to the Inner Harbor Project's mission. Images of Cheo and Diamond and further information on their work can be found here <http://theinnerharborproject.org/the-team/> .
Executive Director Celia Neustadt is also available for expert comment on issues of youth and policing.
The Inner Harbor Project is a model for social change that identifies teenagers who are leaders among their peers, equips them with research and professional skills, and organizes them to come up with solutions to issues that divide our society on the basis of race, class and culture. The Inner Harbor Project focuses on public space because it is the place where different social needs compete and where we can pioneer effective approaches to harmonious coexistence.
The Inner Harbor Project's five current initiatives include: Teen Mediation, Code of Etiquette, The Harbor Card , Hood2Harbor Peace Ambassadors, and Cultural Competency Training in partnership with the Baltimore City Police Department, Waterfront Partnership and Downtown Partnership.