Samaria Rice has long made it clear that she has no respect for those who have profited off of her son’s tragic death, but she’s not convinced high profile activist Shaun King has gotten the message.
On Wednesday, Rice, mother of Tamir Rice, published a letter to King on Instagram, accusing him of being an “imposter” and raising money in her son’s name without her knowledge. Her condemnation of King followed a recent episode of his podcast where he discussed a conversation he had with Rice that she understood to be private. (The episode has since been removed.)
“Why do you think its so important to tell folks we had a conversation?” Rice wrote on Instagram. “Well we talked and everything that was said was very toxic... Personally I don’t understand how you sleep at night. I never gave you permission to raise nothing. Along with the United States, you robbed me for the death of my son.”
Rice also accused King of being a “white man acting black.”
Tamir was 12 years old when he was shot and killed by a white Cleveland police officer in 2014. He was playing with a toy gun in a park and died almost instantly. His death, which was captured via surveillance camera, invoked immediate outrage, even more so after a grand jury failed to indict the officers involved.
“Tamir[’s] human rights was violated, why would you ever make it about you?” she added. “You are a selfish self centered person and God will deal with you White man.”
It’s far from the first time King has been accused of being a social justice grifter. King, the activist and founder of Real Justice PAC, has long been scrutinized for alleged fraudulent fundraising practices, especially in the early years of the Black Lives Matter movement. This includes $65,000 King raised for Tamir Rice’s family in 2015, as well as additional funds he raised after learning that Samaria Rice was living in a homeless shelter and had yet to bury her son. But Rice said she didn’t know King, and hadn’t been informed of the funds raised in her son’s name. The money was eventually seized and placed in Tamir Rice’s estate.
And so it’s no wonder Rice has felt violated and distrustful of professional activists. In March, she also called out various prominent Black Lives Matter activists like Tamika Mallory—and, yes, Shaun King—as well as “ambulance chasing” lawyers like her former attorney Benjamin Crump, accusing them of exploiting families’ suffering in the aftermath of police violence.
In an interview with The Cut in May, she said she was outraged by their faux-activism:
According to Rice, “All of the families should be getting therapy, and all of them should be getting the tools to speak for themselves, not have people speak for them.” She asked Black Lives Matter to stop using Tamir’s name, yet he kept coming up in its various satellite groups. This, she believed, was a way to hustle her son’s death for the organization’s gain.
“I ain’t never talked to Shaun King a day in my life,” Rice goes on to say. “Shaun King raised all that money [for Tamir] and sent me a $60,000 check.” The money was put into Tamir’s estate. It made her sick to think that a stranger had used her son’s name without her consent. “I ain’t know Shaun King from a hole in the wall.”
I asked Rice what she thought ought to be done now to course correct. “I think they can make things right with the community and try to show the community that they are working and not just talking … you got these corporate people listening to you like you doing the work, and you not doing the work if you not in these streets.”
Every few months or so, someone levels these exact criticisms against King. While his reputation has certainly been dinged, it hasn’t seemed to stop him from continuing his behavior. Sadly, it’s hard to imagine that Rice’s latest Instagram post will change that.