I didn't want to watch the surveillance video again. I'd already seen it too many times. Every one ended the same: 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot by police in less than two seconds.
But as this issue was about to go to press, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty released two separate reports — one from a Colorado prosecutor and one from a former FBI special agent — that concluded the officers' actions on Nov. 22, 2014, were "reasonable" and "justified."
I read the reports and watched the video again. And again. I wanted to see it how those experts did.
But the words from the reports that kept coming to mind were "tragic" and "heartbreaking."
As I struggled with my own response, I noticed a string of tweets from the King Center in Atlanta: "There's nothing 'justified' or 'reasonable' about the death of #TamirRice."
When the next felt like a guidepost — "#MLK's nonviolent philosophy and methodology are as relevant and useful TODAY as they were 50 years ago. #ChooseNonviolence #Nonviolence365" — I kept on. They eventually led me to a recorded sermon at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, on Nov. 17, 1957. So I listened as Martin Luther King Jr. spoke from the pulpit about "loving your enemies."
About halfway through the sermon, King tells a story about why we need to love our enemies. He and his brother had been driving from Atlanta to Chattanooga, Tennessee, one evening. And the other drivers on the road wouldn't dim their lights as they passed, making it tough for his brother to see. Eventually, his brother grew upset and wanted to do the same in return. But King warned: What good would that do? "There'd be too much light on this highway," he said, "and it will end up in mutual destruction for all. Somebody got to have some sense on this highway."
The 911 call and surveillance video played again in my head. Shouldn't someone have had some sense? Isn't that what we should expect from our police? Are we so blinded by the lights that we have come to this?
King's voice goes flat and builds to a cresting wave: "Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe." And then, soft. "And you do that by love."
I listened to it again — because I needed to.