Javier Ortiz, the president of Miami's police union, thinks Tamir Rice got what was coming to him. According to the Miami New Times, he tweeted a screenshot of Rice with the caption, "act like a thug and you'll be treated like one."
His comment calls to mind those made by current and former heads of the Cleveland union, which represents the officers responsible for Rice's death. Former boss Jeffrey Follmer previously said on MSNBC that Rice was an imminent lethal threat who might have survived had he listened to police commands—even though the 12-year-old boy was given less than one second to react to purely hypothetical orders before he was fired upon. Current boss Steve Loomis had even worse things to say: he called Rice "menacing."
"He wasn't that little kid you're seeing in pictures," he told POLITICO. "Tamir Rice is in the wrong."
All three union leaders place the blame squarely on Rice's shoulders, although they fail to explain what he could have done differently in the moment to avoid being killed. If Officer Timothy Loehmann is always justified in killing Rice in every conceivable circumstance, then Rice was as good as dead the minute Officer Frank Garmback decided to drive right up to the teen.
But to say Ortiz, Follmer, and Loomis's statements are factually inaccurate is almost missing the point. They are much more than wrong—they are inhuman. They reveal that the heads of these unions have shockingly little empathy for a boy who died because a panicky and incompetent officer of the law killed him.
I hope left-leaning supporters of criminal justice reform are listening. Police unions are not allies of progressives—they are ironclad defenders of the most maddening aspects of the status quo.