U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is traveling to Cleveland Thursday to meet with community leaders in the wake of one of the city's police officers killing 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Holder's visit is aimed at easing escalating tensions between law enforcement and residents in the city, according to the Associated Press. The Justice Department framed Holder’s visit to the city as part of its “Building Community Trust” roundtable initiative, which seeks to address police-community relations in light of racial tensions in Cleveland and other cities, reported Cleveland.com.
Cleveland has been grappling with the aftermath of Tamir’s Nov. 22 killing. Video released by the police showed that Officer Timothy Loehmann, 26, shot Tamir within two seconds of arriving at the scene to investigate a complaint that the boy was carrying a gun. Tamir had been playing with an Airsoft replica of a semi-automatic weapon, according to the Washington Post. Loehmann, is now under investigation by the city’s police department and county prosecutors.
Protests broke out in Cleveland following the release of footage of Tamir’s killing, and activists have demanded accountability from city officials. Local leaders, including U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, have also asked the Justice Department to step in and investigate.
The DOJ is currently investigating whether there is a pattern of using excessive force within the city’s police department. News reports have suggested that Holder’s visit on Thursday could mean that the investigation has been completed and that the attorney general was preparing to deliver the results of the probe to city officials.
Cleveland is the first of five cities Holder will be traveling to as part of his effort to repair relations between police and minority communities. Holder is also slated to visit Memphis, Tenn.; Chicago; Philadelphia; and Oakland, Calif, according to the Wall Street Journal. This effort is expected to face increasing challenges after grand juries in New York and Ferguson, Mo., failed to indict police officers for killing black men.