Inquiring Minds Want To Know: Was Tamir Rice’s Postman’s Neighbor Mean? (Update)

At the top of the story is a parenthetical, meant to calm the cries of foul for the story after it hit social media and Cleveland.com was excoriated for it.

(Update: A line has been added to this story to give insight into the motivation to investigate the parents’ background)

The story is all about Leonard Warner.  Yes, that Leonard Warner.  Who, you ask?  Why, Leonard Warner. Have you been hiding under a rock?  You know, Leonard Warner.  Of course, if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t seek legal advice from past episodes of the Kardashians, the name may not mean much to you.  That’s because it shouldn’t. That’s because the name is utterly irrelevant to anything whatsoever.

And that’s why Cleveland.com inserted the explanatory parenthetical.  And that’s why thoughtful people everywhere ripped Cleveland.com a new one for having posted the story.  It’s not merely outrageous, but feeds the public ignorance by suggesting that it matters and is worthy of space.

People from across the region have been asking whether Rice grew up around violence. The Northeast Ohio Media Group investigated the backgrounds of the parents and found the mother and father both have violent pasts.

See?  It’s the National Enquirer mentality; give us some absurd yet sordid details, no matter how irrelevant, so we can bask in the glory that our trailer park isn’t the biggest cesspool ever.  And there’s Cleveland.com, happy to oblige and accept your clicks.  What? Didn’t you realize they had wifi at the trailer park?  You’re such a snob.

But did “people from across the region” really ask Cleveland.com to feed them irrelevant nonsense?  Maybe, though there is no evidence offered to suggest it’s anything more than a post hoc excuse for the story.  It harkens back to the claim of Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson that he released the video of the “strong arm robbery” of Swisher Sweets by Michael Brown in response to all the media requests.

Except there were none. It was a lie to get the video out there, incorporate it into the narrative even though it had nothing to do with the killing of Michael Brown, and smear the dead kid and create a connection between reality and the myth.  To this day, inquiring minds connect this to the killing, despite the subsequent admission that it bore no connection.  Once a piece of feces is thrown against a wall, it can’t be unthrown in the minds of those determined to reach their desired conclusion.

Leonard Warner, who fathered the 12-year-old boy fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer Saturday, has multiple convictions for the abuse of women, court records show.

Fathered?  A loaded word indeed, demanding yet further detail to inquiring minds.

Warner is estranged from Rice’s mother Samaria Rice, who pleaded guilty to drug trafficking last year and assault in 2001.

The same year, on Dec. 8, 2001, she was the victim of domestic violence. Warner was her knife-wielding attacker at a home in the 3800 block of East 92nd Street, according to a court document. The report does not say if Rice was injured.

“But wait!”, as they say in late night informercials.  “There’s more!!!”

In 2010, Warner was arrested again for domestic violence. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years probation.

Samaria Rice was the victim in that case, according to the court.

Get out the popcorn.  This is fascinating stuff.  But what about baby mama, that drug dealing assaulter and aficionado of fellows who treat her poorly?

She called Strongsville police twice in 2010 to report abuse from a boyfriend when she lived in that city.

In one case, told police that her live-in boyfriend, Michael Wiley, of Cleveland, had beaten her for two days.

Wiley was convicted of domestic violence and given a suspended 90-day jail sentence, county court records show.

Wiley?  Well now, don’t we need to know all about this Michael Wiley character, and what he did in his youth to show how he would be a domestic abuser deserving his suspended 90-day sentence?  After all, it says, “in one case,” which certainly implies that Wiley has others. Maybe dozens. Maybe hundreds.  Don’t “people from across the region” have the right to know all the sordid details?  Doesn’t Cleveland.com owe it to their readers to give them the juiciness they demand?

It would come as no surprise if, upon learning of the execution of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, would want to know sordid details of all manner, even though it has absolutely no rational connection to the one, and only one, reason for his killing:  Tamir Rice was killed because rookie Police Officer Timothy Loehmann shot him.  Whether Rice won the Most Empathetic Kid in Cleveland, 2014, award or had a history of stealing a zillion Swisher Sweets played no conceivable role unless Loehmann’s shot was in some way caused by it.  It wasn’t.

Boom! It doesn’t matter.  And anyone asking for irrelevant sordid details is a moron.  Perhaps a moron trained by past experience to relish in irrelevant misery, but a moron.  Yet, people are constitutionally entitled to be morons, Darwin notwithstanding.  The “people across the region” can ask Cleveland.com for such utterly irrelevant sordid details if that’s the sort of stuff that lights their fire.

But what cannot be explained, no less justified, is the willingness, if not outright glee, in providing the unsavory background of a person who has been killed, harmed, maimed, victimized by police when it has no conceivable relevance to the story.  This is the smear.

It’s bad enough that too many Americans see connections between the smear and the wholly irrelevant act of harm that befalls people.  Akai Gurley had prior arrests?  But his killing was arbitrary.  The only possible significance of his priors was that his life, and therefore his death, was someone rendered insignificant by his past.

When it came to Tamir Rice, it was hard. The kid was only 12 years old, and how much bad stuff could be found to diminish the worth of his life?  And so Cleveland.com had to smear his parents and their paramours to come up with the nastiness that “people across the region” demanded of them.

Yeah, right.  And if his parents were saints, it would have been the mailman. Keep looking until you find somebody who did something unsavory in which to show that the dead kid’s life just isn’t worth enough to lose sleep over.

Whether Cleveland.com is lying (which I suspect it is) doesn’t matter; what matters is that they feed the stupid, the prejudiced, the ignorant.  What they did was a disgrace, regardless of who wants to know.

 Update:  In response to the reactions of disgust and outrage, Northeast Ohio Media Group (which owns Cleveland.com) offers its “explanation” for why it published the story of Tamir Rice’s parents’ legal issues:

One of the questions these people raise is why a 12-year-old was walking about in a public place, randomly aiming what looks like a real gun in various directions, to the point where a witness called 9-1-1 in fear.

In a city where, as our series noted, police are quick to resort to force, a 12-year-old randomly aiming a gun in a public place is in mortal danger. One way to stop police from killing any more 12-year-olds might be to understand the forces that lead children to undertake behavior that could put them in the sights of police guns.

So our reporters at NEOMG have been looking into Tamir’s background, to see if he lived a life exposed to violence that could explain why it might be normal for him to randomly aim what looks like a real gun in a public place.

Trying to rationalize their irrelevant and disgraceful conduct by co-opting the visceral “why” adds a new layer of disingenuousness to the mix.  Why was Tamir Rice so evil?  Why did he have what appeared to be a “real looking gun”?  But then, Chris Quinn, the official Apologist for NEOMG, takes a swan dive into the shit hole:

They also found that violence was no stranger to Tamir. Both of his parents have criminal records involving violence.

Oh no you don’t. Unless we’re to assume that Quinn is dumber than dirt, he’s a liar. There is no logical nexus between what happened with Tamir Rice’s parents and his being “no stranger to violence.”  How dare you try to pass off that garbage as logical.

People asked what the criminal histories of Tamir’s parents has to do with the central story of a boy being shot by police. Again, we believe it may shed further light on why this 12 year old was waving a weapon around a public park.

I don’t agree with the criticism, as I believe our duty is to illuminate.

If the good people of northeast Ohio were outraged before at being treated as if they’re incapable of rational thought and spend all day watching reruns of New Jersey housewives, this should hit the breaking point.

Yes, Quinn, you have a duty to illuminate. You not only failed miserably to fulfill that duty, but have done everything in your power to make the people who read your content stupider by a magnitude for having done so.  You suck.

H/T Cristian Farias

30 thoughts on “Inquiring Minds Want To Know: Was Tamir Rice’s Postman’s Neighbor Mean? (Update)

  1. Cristian

    The explanation Northeast Ohio Media Group offered in a longer post by an editor is golden: “One way to stop police from killing any more 12-year-olds might be to understand the forces that lead children to undertake behavior that could put them in the sights of police guns.”

  2. RAFIV

    Its all about the narrative and contextualization of facts to bolster and highlight aspects of this narrative. Its isn’t journalism, its advocacy. But it is advocacy divorced from cold hard reality. We need to understand his family to understand why a child would play with a gun. Why police react that way. Why domestic violence causes ripples of terror and trauma far outside the family etc.
    And While journalists play the stirring role of social justice hero, people loose sight of the true story: that a police drove up to a child and executed him. But we shouldn’t let facts detract us from a good story.

  3. Patrick Maupin

    Betteridge would say “no”.

    But more seriously, Seriously??!?

    I suppose it makes sense in a twisted sort of way, but the pacifists who think it’s abnormal for kids to use toy guns yet who defend cops for shooting unarmed kids should be deeply ashamed of themselves.

      1. Patrick Maupin

        Yeah, not very clear, I know. I wrote that on a tablet in a hurry, and “pacifist” isn’t the right word, but the right word still escapes me.

        Anyway, let me try again — my thoughts are still a bit muddled and my writing still probably won’t be all that clear, but the bottom line is I think there is an agenda here that is bigger than simply protecting the police, or generating page views. [Ed. Note: Balance deleted for the sake of humanity and its progeny, because it has nothing to do with the impropriety of publishing irrelevant information about the parents’ bad acts and, well, it’s utterly incomprehensible. Sorry, Patrick, but no, even you don’t get to spin wild conspiracy theories as to secret motives of NEOMG here.]

        1. Patrick Maupin

          That’s completely fair, but I don’t actually view it as a conspiracy. More as a relatively new shared vision.

  4. ShelbyC

    “One of the questions these people raise is why a 12-year-old was walking about in a public place, randomly aiming what looks like a real gun in various directions, to the point where a witness called 9-1-1 in fear.”

    Because he’s a twelve year old? I used to take my BB gun on my paper route and shoot all kind of stuff in the neighborhood. And neither of parents had a history of domestic violence.

      1. Vin

        I don’t know how many bullets would need to fly by my head while watching TV in the evening before I got anxious enough to call 911 when I saw something that looked to be a little risky.

        1. SHG Post author

          Do you have information that the person who called 911 had bullets fly by his head, and that was what pushed him to call 911? If so, please reveal it, because this might be important. But if not, why raise a specter of “fact” about which you know absolutely nothing, based solely on your personal assumption and, perhaps, a bit of white guy paranoia?

          And that’s why I deleted the other two paragraphs of your comments. Vin, you can’t make shit up just because you feel like it.

    1. DaveL

      Yes, a 12 year-old boy waving an airsoft gun around is definitely a situation that calls for the intervention of a responsible adult. Unfortunately, somebody called the police instead.

  5. Anne Krone

    Since the NEOMG seems to be in the business of promulgating irrelevant stupidity, how about an article on the kind of sordid lifestyle that would cause someone to be so fearful that they must call 911 to report a (probably) child playing with a (probably) toy.

      1. Anne Krone

        Ah yes, silly me. I had forgotten that bit of stupidity, because Top. Men. have determined that the best way to detect a vary faint signal is to turn up the background noise.

  6. Tim Cushing

    Honestly, you cannot say enough bad things about Chris Quinn. This is the same guy who vanished away official recordings of incumbent Ohio governor John Kasich acting like an abrasive, insolent child during a “pre-endorsement interview” at NEOMG’s offices (the Cleveland Plain Dealer endorsed Kasich) and followed it up by sending threatening cease-and-desist letters to sites posting clips from the video.

    His excuse for burying the video was that no candidates (there were three) were informed video would be recorded. (Should people still be informed of this possibility in 2014? Seems unlikely…) Only Kasich’s camp complained, but Quinn said he took it down in the interest of “fairness.” At least in this incident, his name is on the article. In this previous debacle, he ‘allowed’ Chris Diadiun (the Plain Dealer’s ‘reader representative’) to assume the position of ‘body shield’ and absorb the derision meant for him.

    This new debacle pushes the needle firmly towards “liar.” Quinn has no business holding a position of power within a journalistic entity. With him acting as a mouthpiece, the Plain Dealer (and Cleveland.com) is leaking credibility at an alarming rate.

    1. SHG Post author

      So I gather you don’t expect to be invited to the sleepover party at Chris Quinn’s house?

      And what’s with the “honestly”? Aren’t you always honest, or have I been blinded by confirmation bias?

  7. Virgil T. Morant

    I’m sad to report that I share a similarly scarred childhood to that described by ShelbyC in a comment above. I recall playing with toy guns of various types in public, including a BB gun and sometimes by myself. Yet no one in my family had a criminal record. I have long wondered where I got the dang fool idea to play with toy guns, if my parents weren’t criminals (which is of course the most logical explanation). I have concluded that it must have been demonic possession.

  8. William Crosby

    You captured perfectly some of the various dimensions of this story and the culpability of the local media NEOMG fka the Cleveland Plain Dealer which is using racist code language to pander to the hate mongers who populate their comment section. It’s the new click-bait business model of this once proud newspaper.

    NEOMG’s terrible “journalism” targeting Tamir Rice’s father isn’t isolated, it part of a pattern of similar stories in which the survivors of police assaults or shootings are attacked or smeared because they might benefit in money damages vis-a-vis the cops. This is particularly appalling in a City in which two years ago the local (mostly white) cops emptied 100+ rounds into the car with two homeless unarmed (African-American) suspects following a totally unnecessary police chase and resulting in seismic disciplinary actions and the indictment of one of the warrior cops for manslaughter. The cops and their union are now using the claim of reverse racism in civil rights actions filed on Friday.

    The other element of what’s going on with NEOMG is the aftermath of VP Chris Quinn’s union busting at the Plain Dealer as he collapses the print edition into their online click-bait operation. The Newspaper Guild no longer rules the Plain Dealer as any freelancer with a sensational enough angle or no angle can get published. It was telling that the “public editor” Ted Diadum’s column in so many words admits that NEOMG performs horribly but concludes the apologia with an acknowledgment that we the readers need to get used to it. That’s just the way it is.

    1. SHG Post author

      Yeah, that was Tim Cushing’s point about Quinn and NEOMG. But rather than disperse attention over a broader and more amorphous area, and by doing so accomplish nothing, this post sought to focus on a specific instance of something Quinn and NEOMG did wrong, which is what I sought to do in this post. Focusing on a specific point is such a hard thing to accomplish.

      1. George B

        I intended no snark here. The child is dead as a direct result of the officer’s actions, actions influenced by his upbringing more directly than the child’s mostly absent father’s affected Tamir’s.

        I did not see the PD looking into that aspect.

        [Sigh: the PD used to be a first rate paper, far better than the Cleveland Press ever was.]

        1. SHG Post author

          Then your comment is just as bad as the PD’s article. This isn’t a game of gotcha; if it’s irrelevant, it’s irrelevant for everyone. This lapse into cries of “hypocrisy” is for children and fools. It is beneath the level of reason I expect here.

  9. Pingback: Tamir Rice: Did Rookie Cop Loehmann Have To Kill Him? | Simple Justice

  10. Jeff Hall

    The Northeast Ohio Media Group says: “One of the questions these people raise is why a 12-year-old was walking about in a public place, randomly aiming what looks like a real gun in various directions, to the point where a witness called 9-1-1 in fear.”

    But where is the evidence that the 911 caller was “in fear”? It sounded to me like the caller was reporting a child that might be in danger, but probably wasn’t — just what any responsible adult would do. Did cleveland.com interview the caller to find out if he was in fear? If they did, then why isn’t a report of that interview on their website? And if they didn’t, then why are they making up facts to defend their journalistic integrity? That’s like an accountant making up numbers to defend is knowledge of arithmetic, isn’t it?

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