The mother of Tamir Rice accused Tamika Mallory and other activists and lawyers in the broader movement for Black lives of “monopolizing” the fight for racial justice, following a series of social media posts after Mallory’s cameo at the 2021 Grammy Awards.
On Sunday, Samaria Rice addressed Mallory, a long-time activist, on Facebook and accused her, the Black Lives Matter organization and prominent civil rights attorneys of monetizing off the deaths of Black people. Mallory is not a leader within the official BLM organization but runs her own social justice group, Until Freedom.
“You Black lives matters b*****s riding these families backs. Y’all have f*cked up our fight,” wrote the founder and CEO of Tamir Rice Foundation, an organization that Ms. Rice launched after police shot and killed her 12-year-old son in 2014. The organization is focused on investing in after-school programs for kids in the arts.
Mallory collaborated with Atlanta rapper Lil Baby at the Grammy Awards, which aired on Sunday. While he performed his hit song, “The Bigger Picture,” Mallory performed a poem addressing Black oppression and police brutality.
“It’s a state of emergency. It’s been a hell of a year. Hell for over 400 years. My people, it’s time we stand. It’s time we demand the freedom that this land promises,” said Mallory.
“President Biden, we demand justice, equity, policy, and everything else that freedom encompasses, and to accomplish this, we don’t need allies. We need accomplices. It’s bigger than black and white. This is not a trend, this is our plight. Until freedom.”
But Rice was not in favor of the tribute.
“Look at this clout chaser did she lose something in this fight I don’t think so,” wrote Rice, who also criticized civil rights attorney Ben Crump. “That’s the problem they take us for a joke thats why we never have justice cause of shit like this.”
She also took to Facebook to say, “F**k a Grammy when my son is dead, F**k all pig cops.”
On Tuesday, Ms. Rice released an official statement, along with Lisa Simpson, the mother of Richard Risher, who was killed by LAPD officers in 2017, doubling down on her thoughts about Mallory, Crump and others, asking them to “step down” and “stand back.”
“Tamika D. Mallory, Shaun King, Benjamin Crump, Lee Merritt, Patrisse Cullors, Melina Abdullah and the Black Lives Matter Global Network need to step down, stand back, and stop monopolizing and capitalizing our fight for justice and human rights,” the statement read. “We never hired them to be the representatives in the fight for justice for our dead loved ones murdered by the police.”
Rice and Simpson added, “The ‘activists’ have events in our cities and have not given us anything substantial for using our loved ones’ images and names on their flyers.”
Targeting attorneys like Crump and Merritt, the mothers of the movement said “the attorneys in our fight are also misleading the impacted families.” What’s more, Rice said she “fired” Crump months into her case, citing “it was even questionable as to whether Benjamin Crump knew the laws in-depth in the state of Ohio.”
The statement concluded: “We don’t want or need ya’ll parading in the streets accumulating donations, platforms, movie deals, etc. off the death of our loved ones, while the families and communities are left clueless and broken. Don’t say our loved ones’ names period! That’s our truth!”
Tariq Nasheed, film director and activist, took to Twitter to say he stands with Ms. Rice because some Black activists have an agenda.
“Samaria Rice is 100% correct to call out these phony, white liberal entities (with Black puppet front ppl) who exploit the deaths of her son & other Black people for money, then use the resources to fund immigrant & LGBT groups, while doing NOTHING to help protect Black society.”
Activist and writer Shaun King also spoke up. He penned a piece in an attempt to contextualize Ms. Rice’s frustrations but also expressed support for Mallory. King said the work Mallory has done for the Black community is monumental and speaks for itself. He added that the goal of her performance was to shed light on the lack of justice for Black people.
“For me, it gave substance and seriousness to the entire show, but then again, I know Tamika very well,” wrote King in regards to Mallory’s Grammy performance. “She’s as serious and substantive as one person could be. She’s not in this for fame. And she didn’t invite herself onto the show, but was recruited and invited there – and chose to use the moment the best she could.”
King’s comments were met with both praise from supporters, and harsh backlash from critics who say his defense of Mallory didn’t help.
Constance Malcolm, the mother of Ramarley Graham, who was fatally shot by NYPD officer Richard Haste in 2012 while in the bathroom of his Bronx apartment, also came to the defense of Mallory.
“I have no issues with Tamika,” Malcolm told theGrio.”My son has been dead for nine years and Tamika still keeps in contact … I have nothing bad to say about her. She’s been good to my family.” She added, “If I call her about anything, she picks up.”
Ms. Malcolm said she does, however, understand criticisms of some activists who, in her opinion, “come around just for the cameras … but I never got that from Tamika.” Malcolm said she does understand why Samaria Rice may be frustrated given the loss of her son who was so young, but suggested that maybe her way of addressing her feelings could’ve been handled differently.
“I could sympathize where she’s coming from, but sometimes that’s not the proper way to do things. Maybe you need to come to people instead of just going off and cursing people out,” said Malcolm. “Things escalate and people start getting in their feelings and start name-calling … it’s not the right way to go about it.”
This isn’t the first time Mallory has been criticized. Back in August, the activist was accused of trying to capitalize off the death of Breonna Taylor. As reported by theGrio, Mallory’s Until Freedom held BreonnaCon, a four-day “massive demonstration throughout Louisville. Mallory responded to Breonna Taylor supporters who were split over the event. According to the Courier-Journal, the New York-based organization founded by Mallory and Linda Sarsour encouraged participants to participate in a series of demonstrations and workshops featuring several celebrities, activists, and influencers.
Although the intention of the event was to keep Taylor’s name at the forefront of public consciousness, Mallory responded to those unsure about the decision to use the late EMT’s name to promote it.
“There were no internal issues within Until Freedom about using the name,” clarified Mallory. “Especially not when Tamika Palmer (Breonna’s mother) and her family members and her family attorneys were here working with us when the concepts were developed.”
“When one of the younger organizers suggested ‘Bre-B-Q,’ her mom, with tears in her eyes looked at me and said Breonna would love Bre-B-Q, that would be really special,” she continued.
People seemed to be particularly put off by a workshop titled, “Beauty, Money and Justice!” featuring Love & Hip Hop’s Yandy Smith-Harris, Real Housewives of Atlanta star Porsha Williams, and political strategist Tezlyn Figaro. Mallory had a response to those critics.
“The history of organizing has been using creative tactics to bring people into movements. Many of the women who came out to the women’s empowerment event yesterday were individuals who said they had never been to any of the protests,” she said.
“The influencers were used as a hook to get them in, but when they got there they learned about Breonna’s Law. They learned about what it means when we say to defund the police.”
Story & Photo Credit: Keydra Manns, Stephanie Guerilus and Blue Telusma/thegrio