CLEVELAND- It’s been over a week since the tragic death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
Since his death, community activists are moving forward with the idea of a city-wide toy gun buyback program.
“We’ve been talking about this since a year ago,” said Yvonne Pointer, community activist.
But with the recent shooting death of Tamir Rice, the idea of the program gained momentum.
“We are going to be asking parents to bring their toy guns with their children and in exchange, they will get a comic book,” said Pointer.
Monday afternoon, Pointer and other community members met to discuss the toy gun buyback program at the Khnemu Lighthouse Foundation community center on East 105th Street in Cleveland.
“The event will be at the Boys and Girls Club. We are planning on December the 13th,” said Damien Forshe, co-founder of the Rid-All Green Partnership.
“When I was a young guy, I was in a culture that reinforced violence,” said Fred Ward, who runs the center.
Ward said the program will open a discussion.
“I had toy guns so a lot of the reinforcements I had as a kid were dominated by the shoot ’em up, bang-bang. But in this society right now, we need an alternative to that,” said Ward.
Two-year-old Quan Muwwakkil of Cleveland traded a toy gun for a comic book on Sunday.
“It was bought under the impression that it was a harmless toy and obviously, it’s not. So, he felt the need to turn it in,” said Ronald Moss, uncle and guardian.
Organizers are hoping that parents and children will follow.
“When they see their peers doing it, it will wake them up to understand it’s not good to have toy guns at that age,” said Forshe.
“Even as little children, my uncles and brothers played with little cap guns. But these guns today don’t look like the cap guns they used to play with,” said Pointer.
Cleveland police already hold an annual real gun buyback program.
This past September, they collected 270 firearms off the streets.