Kaboom, Waterloo

Blasting Off Into The New Year

2015 is going to be huge. That’s not a resolution, just a brief mission statement for the new year.

How about you?

For the record, today’s Pic du Jour, the 353rd straight, was snapped on 29 December 2014 in the Waterloo Arts District in Cleveland, Ohio. More next week about this rejuvenated neighborhood on the city’s east side, the only business and arts district in the city that’s 100% locally owned.

Racism kills - demostrator protesting the shooting of Tamir Rice in Cleveland

Weekend Demonstrations Begin in Cleveland to Protest Fatal Police Shooting of 12-year-old boy

About one hundred people gathered in Cleveland’s Cudell Commons park this morning to kick off a two-day Weekend of Resistance event to protest last month’s fatal shooting of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy killed by a Cleveland police officer at the park on the city’s west side. A 26-photo gallery of the demonstration is below.

I posted previously about the Rice case here and here but to summarize: Rice was holding what turned out to be a toy airsoft gun when he was shot on November 22, 2014; he died early the next day. Video footage of the shooting, showing how the police officer shot the boy within moments of arriving on the scene, has sparked outrage nationwide and attracted attention worldwide.

Local residents were joined this morning by some 40 activists who traveled from Ferguson, Missouri, to show their support for Rice and his family, and to join the protest.

As I post this, the protest is ongoing with the demonstrators marching to various parts of the city’s downtown area. You can follow on twitter via the hashtags #Ferguson2Cle and #CleProtests. A pair of actions are also scheduled for Sunday.

All images © Bob Ramsak; for editorial use, please check out the images I filed for Demotix and Corbis.




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At the memorial for slain 12-year-old Tamir Rice at Cudell Commons Park in Cleveland, Ohio

Memorial for Tamir Rice, 12-year-old slain by police officer in Cleveland

Here are a dozen shots from the growing memorial for Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was holding what turned out to be a toy airsoft gun when he was shot by a Cleveland police officer at a community park on the city’s west side on November 22, 2014. He died early the next day. Video footage of the shooting, showing how the police officer shot the boy within moments of arriving on the scene, has sparked outrage nationwide. (I wrote about the surveillance tape in a previous post here.)

The memorial, comprised mostly of stuffed animals and other toys left by neighborhood children, sits on a picnic table in a gazebo at the Cudell Recreation center where Rice was fatally shot. The gloomy gray skies and the air’s still chill set a fitting tone at the park late this morning where locals are still coming to pay their respects. Fitting too for the news the city received yesterday.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was in Cleveland Thursday to deliver a scathing report of two Department of Justice investigations of the Cleveland Police Department’s use of force. From today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer:

The 58-page letter paints a woeful portrait of officers pulling their guns and firing at suspects without justifiable cause, of beating defenseless persons already in handcuffs and of covering their actions by failing to write accurate police reports —if they write any at all. It also enumerates examples of cruel and excessive force being used against the mentally ill.

While welcome, the damning investigation, which calls for immediate sweeping reform, comes too late for Rice, whose shooting was not part of the DOJ investigation, which covered nearly 600 use-of-force incidents from 2010-2013. Surveillance footage of Tamir’s shooting, which shows the boy being shot twice within two seconds of the officers’ arrival on the scene, seems to underscore the report’s assertions that police in Cleveland are quick on the draw.

These are things many residents already had first hand knowledge of. I relocated to Europe from Cleveland more than a decade ago –maybe that’s why I was a little surprised to learn about how abhorrent the situation here actually is. Or maybe I’d just forgotten.

Continue reading…

Cleveland police officers waited four minutes to give first aid to wrongfully shot 12-year-old

I can’t say that my entire stay in Cleveland has been pleasant. Not this week.

Cleveland Police today released surveillance video that recorded the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice. Rice is a 12-year-old boy who was holding what turned out to be a toy airsoft gun when he was shot by a police officer at a community park on the city’s west side on Saturday. Rice died early Sunday.

The video shows a police officer shooting Rice within two seconds of arriving on the scene. What I found even more profoundly saddening about the entire tragedy is that the two officers waited four minutes before delivering first aid to Rice who lay bleeding on the snow-covered grass.

Rice was shot twice in the abdomen at close range, dropped to the ground immediately, but received no attention until a passer-by assisted.

Rice wasn’t given first aid until a medically trained FBI agent on duty in the area arrived at the scene — Cudell Recreation Center on the city’s West Side.

Police were responding to a 9-1-1 caller’s report that someone waving “a pistol” at the park. The caller said it may be a toy and that the person was “probably a juvenile”. The dispatcher did not relay that information to the officers.

In an editorial published just a few hours after the surveillance tape was released, The Plain Dealer/Cleveland.com wrote that the police have some serious explaining to do.

The account Cleveland police gave of the shooting by a rookie police officer does not seem to match what the video reveals.

The police said two officers, responding to a 9-1-1 call, went to the park and saw Tamir take what they thought was a pistol from a table under a gazebo in the park and stuff it in his waistband. Police said that the boy was sitting with a group at the time.

Police also said that the officers told Tamir three times to raise his hands, and that when he reached for what they thought was a real pistol, he was shot.

The video, however, shows officers in a cruiser pull up within several feet of Rice, who was not with a group, but by himself underneath a gazebo. Immediately, even before the car stops rolling, the cruiser’s passenger side door opens, an officer emerges and fires at Tamir, who drops to the ground.

Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said the officers ordered Tamir to “show your hands” three times from the ajar passenger door, but it’s hard to believe that’s possible based on the video.

The shot that struck Tamir appears to have been fired the very moment the officer stands up after getting out of the car. If this is the proper technique for confronting an armed gunman, let alone a 12-year-old boy with a toy gun, one has to wonder what training manual they are consulting.

And more crucial questions:

Why did the officers drive right up to Tamir? Why didn’t they park further away, climb out of their car and shield themselves with a door or another section of the car, and then order Tamir to drop his weapon?

Indeed, many questions to answer.

The video was released at the request of Rice’s family. They didn’t meet with the press but did issue the following statement.

“We have seen the video that shows our son, Tamir, being shot and killed by a City of Cleveland police officer. It is our belief that this situation could have been avoided and that Tamir should still be here with us.

The video shows one thing distinctly: the police officers reacted quickly. It is our hope that the City of Cleveland Division of Police and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office thoroughly examine the events outside of the Cudell Recreation Center on Nov. 22, 2014.

Again, we ask for the community to remain calm. Please protest peacefully and responsibly. Your prayers, kind words and condolences have meant so much to us.

We understand that some of you are hurt, angry and sad about our loss. But let’s use those emotions in a way that will contribute to positive efforts and solutions that bring change to Cleveland, Northeast Ohio and cities across the nation as it relates to how law enforcement officials interact with citizens of color.

We thank the City of Cleveland Division of Police for making the video public. We will await the results of their investigation.”

Protests took place in downtown Cleveland over the past two days, in response to both the Tamir Rice shooting and in the aftermath of Monday’s decision of a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri to not indict a police officer who killed an unarmed teenager in August. More demonstrations are expected.

Community of Rhythm, Cleveland

Pic du Jour – Community of Rhythm, Cleveland

That’s the title of this 14-panel mural that hangs on the west facing wall of Sheliga Drug Store on St. Clair Avenue on the city’s near east side, a project that celebrates some of the diverse nationalities that have settled this Cleveland neighborhood over the past century-and-a-half. This was the first neighborhood my family settled in when we arrived from Slovenia, then Yugoslavia, in 1967. It’s always interesting to see and watch how the neighborhood has, and continues, to evolve.

The panels depict youth from several countries — Slovenia, Croatia, Sudan, Ethiopia, China, Puerto Rico, Lithuania and Nigeria– in native dress and playing local instruments. If it hasn’t already, I’d love to see a band made up of this mix emerge. The Mural artists are Jerome White, Anna Arnold and Ni’kole Robinson.

More about the project along with a slideshow is on The City of Cleveland’s Mural my Neighborhood website here.

Today’s Pic du Jour, the 272nd straight, was snapped in Cleveland, Ohio, on 09-Oct-2014. Please click the image to view the full uncropped version.

Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence and the Slovenian connection - plaque in Cleveland, Ohio

Pic du Jour – Slovenians, Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence

I arrived in Cleveland last night, home to this plaque that offers yet more proof that Slovenia and Slovenians truly are at the center of the universe. :)

Jefferson, who authored the U.S. Declaration of Independence, was apparently inspired by a 7th century ceremony in the Duchy of Carantania, one which was based on the notion of consent of the governed, before he penned the document. A description of the medieval ceremony From a recent write-up on the Radio/TV Slovenia website:

There was nothing quite like it in Medieval Europe. When a new Duke was about to be installed in the Duchy of Carantania of the 7th and 8th centuries, he did not assume power solely by divine right, as was common elsewhere in Europe. Instead, the prospective duke, symbolically wearing peasants’ clothing, faced a member of the peasantry who had been selected by ordinary people.

Using an early form of what was to become the Slovenian language, the peasant then questioned the soon-to-be duke — and the surrounding crowd — about the duke’s integrity and asked him whether he was really concerned with the well-being of his duchy. Only when the crowd gave its public consent was the prospective duke finally able to don his ducal vestments and take his oath of fealty – but not before being ceremonially slapped by the peasant.

I’ll be based here for most of the next four months, the first somewhat extended period I’ll be spending in the U.S. since I moved to Europe a decade ago. I’m planning to take lots of notes. And really looking forward to catching with lots of old friends, too.

Today’s Pic du Jour, the 269th straight, was snapped in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, on 28-Aug-2013. Please click the image to view the full uncropped version.

Mushrooms and a trunk

Mushrooms and a Trunk

Like the colors and composition? I do, a good enough reason for this to be selected as today’s Pic du Jour, the 226th (!!) straight.

And it was taken exactly one year ago today in my parents’ back yard in Richmond Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. I dont know anything about these particular mushrooms, only that they almost certainly sprouted from deer droppings. If anyone knows anything more, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


Daysleeper, Cleveland

I’m sometimes quite impressed with the ways people can find a place to enjoy a nap in the middle of a large urban area. Today’s Pic du Jour is one case in point.

I spotted this man, laying on a small pier on the east bank of the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland, from the Detroit-Superior Bridge. I hummed this the rest of the day.

Snapped on 28-Aug-2013
From U2's Zoo TV tour at the Rock and Hall of Fame

Hanging out at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (Pic du Jour)

These classic DDR trabants, left over from U2’s Zoo TV tour, will always have pride of place at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. I try to stop by, even if just to stroll along the lake front, whenever I’m in town. And these cars always put a smile on my face.

Trabant-curious? From a post a couple years ago:

The average lifespan of the vehicle was an astounding 28 years. Officially it went from zero to 100kph/62 mph in 21 seconds and emitted four times as much pollution as the average car in Europe at that time. In all, 3,096,099 rolled off the assembly line.

There’s a 60-second video tour of one in that post, too.

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