CLEVELAND, Ohio — The recent Cleveland police-involved shooting death of a 12-year-old has sparked a movement to get toy guns away from kids.
Sunday night, there was a gathering at the Cudell Recreation Center on West Boulevard where Tamir Rice was shot and killed. The Outcast Voters League, out of Alabama, organized a smash and burn event for toy guns.
Frank Matthews, the president of the organization, is calling for toy manufacturers to stop making toys that look like real guns.
Rice was killed on Nov. 22 after Cleveland police received a 911 call that he was waving a gun around at people at the rec center park. Cleveland officers said they thought Rice’s gun was real, and after he didn’t follow commands, he was shot.
Later it was discovered the weapon was actually an airsoft pistol.
Matthews tells Fox 8 the toy guns look too real.
“If I put this one in my band, I could rob any person if I have the right demeanor, if I have the right look, and if a child has the right look or demeanor, they could make you think it’s a real gun,” he said.
The message is that these toys are not worth lives.
“I think we need to get rid of all of these toy guns, we need to stop playing with guns,
because a young man lost his life,” said Mikal Baker, who attended the event in support.
The OVL has been traveling to several cities recently, and plans to cover many more in their mission. Matthews is hoping to get the attention of parents as well.
“I just want to encourage mothers and fathers to participate,” he said.
Community activists in Cleveland have a toy gun buyback program in place, with an event planned late this week.
Also, there’s proposed legislation in Ohio that all toy guns should be brightly colored as a requirement.
The OVL believes both ideas are steps in the right direction.
“I think the whole ocean of ideas of what we are trying to do collectively or individually can speak volumes,” Matthews said.