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Why Tamir Rice’s mother refuses to endorse Hillary Clinton — or Donald Trump

The movement for black lives didn’t begin and won’t end with politics.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images News

One of the most powerful moments of the Democratic National Convention Tuesday was when seven “Mothers of the Movement” endorsed Hillary Clinton as the one presidential candidate with whom they trust the futures their children lost at the hands of vigilantes and police.

“This isn’t about being politically correct,” Sybrina Fulton, the mother of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin said. “This is about saving our children.”

But one mother was notably absent: Samaria Rice, whose 12-year-old son Tamir Rice was killed by former Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann at a park three days before Thanksgiving 2014. Last December, a grand jury failed to indict Loehmann, and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said the shooting was a “perfect storm” of human error.

In an interview with Fusion ahead of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last week, Rice stressed that she wants “not a little bit of talk, a lot of talk about police brutality, police accountability, making new policies, taking some away, and just reforming the whole system.”

“I think that would make me feel better, and no candidate has did that for me yet,” she said.

During the RNC last week, Donald Trump and other convention speakers mischaracterized the movement for black lives as anti-cop, and, by extension, an example of what America’s greatness stands against.

By contrast, the mothers of the movement have been pivotal figures for Clinton on her way to her historic nomination. Before the primaries began, both Fulton and Lucia McBath — the mothers of 17-year-olds Martin and Jordan Davis respectively, who were both killed by vigilantes in Florida in 2012 — issued separate endorsements for Clinton, citing her "record of standing for commonsense gun laws."

And on the eve of the Missouri primary, Leslie McSpadden, Mike Brown’s mother, celebrated Clinton for her "realistic" proposals to get things done across party lines — a testament to both Clinton and an indication of Bernie Sanders’s less pragmatic approach to racial justice.

Rice, however, has purposefully refused to endorse any candidate since March. For Rice, the work of justice did not begin nor will it end with the political arena. And while she told Fusion she’s especially skeptical of Clinton for the candidate’s ties to big money, she does at the very least hope the other mothers hold Clinton “accountable for whatever discussions they had behind closed doors,” she said.

“I consider myself a normal citizen in America, just raising my kids to be productive citizens out here,” she added. “Now I have been put in a place where I have to fight for human rights across this nation and to get some laws changed so we can have a better America.”

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