RIVERSIDE (FinalCall.com)–Reports of settlement negotiations between the City of Riverside and four officers recently cleared by the U.S. Justice Department of criminal charges for the shooting death of 19-year-old Tyisha Miller have enraged community activists from Los Angeles to New York.
The December 1998 shooting sparked a series of mass protests from a cross section of citizens, clergy, and political leaders, a multimillion dollar settlement by Ms. Miller’s family, the investigation and termination of the officers (one Latino and three white), and their lawsuits against the city.
They are seeking reinstatement, back pay, and pensions.
The city council, according to reports, have offered two of the fired officers a lifetime settlement award of $2,000 per month, tax free.
Activists say the possible deals simply amount to cops being “rewarded” for taking a Black life. They charged that it is an affront to the Black community and everyone who believes in and fought for justice for Ms. Miller, who died in a hail of police gunfire as she lay in her car while in medical arrest. The officers have charged that Ms. Miller prompted the shooting by reaching for a gun on her lap.
“There’s no justice in giving these police officers what amounts to a paid lifetime vacation for murdering an innocent, young, Black child. We went through great sacrifice, and now we’ll be sacrificing again by paying our tax dollars with respect to these proposed settlement agreements,” stated Najee Ali, Director of Project Islamic H.O.P.E.
He said it is shameful that the only people ever arrested and jailed regarding the shooting death were civil rights activists and community residents, who protested the police.
Rev. Al Sharpton agreed with Mr. Ali‘s assessment, stating, “… we did not fight for settlement. We fought for justice.”
Vickey Lindsay of Project Cry No More, a support group for parents who have lost children to street violence, said that she is honestly for peace, however, she also stands for justice and fairness. It seems that the cops escaped through the system, and as a mother who lost a child, she said, it matters not how justice comes, by the street or the system, the officers need to pay.
“To me, cops are no different than gangbangers. They’re just paid murderers. A life was taken unjustly and they need to be served … that they’re police officers makes no difference, because if you take a life, you’ve got to give yours up,” she stated.
For Min. Tony Muhammad, Nation Of Islam Western Region Representative, the proposed settlements represent a clear sign of injustice rooted in the cry and murder of Ms. Miller, and the buyout of many who stood on the frontlines to secure justice for her.
“Our cry was loud at first, and then it weened away … then at a time when we’re not angry or paying attention, these verdicts come down the pipe,” he stated. Disappointing outcomes cannot be challenged by preachers and others initially leading the march, he added, because they have settled for a sack of money. It reveals, he added, that some are not committed to struggle for justice, and that leadership had motivations that were not rooted in truth.
“Right now, that sister appears to have been murdered in vain, but God’s justice will ring. Those who murdered her will pay a price by God for murdering her in the manner in which they did,” he stated.