Tuesday Shaun King published a lengthy piece on The North Star titled “I spoke with Samaria Rice this past week.” Samaria Rice is the mother of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old shot by police in a Cleveland park back in 2014. Today, Samaria Rice posted a statement on Instagram lashing out at King and accusing him of being a “white man acting black.”
View this post on Instagram
Samaria Rice is clearly responding to King’s lenghty piece about their conversation but it’s not clear what made her so angry. According to King the conversation was an attempt to bridge a gap he’d become aware of. He claims he realized during the conversation that other unnamed people had lied to Rice about what he had done on behalf of her family:
I don’t do press conferences. I don’t do photo ops or photoshoots. I don’t do news interviews. I generally don’t even speak at rallies or events. I just put my head down and do the work. And listen, I don’t begrudge anyone who does any of those things – all of them absolutely have their place – but in an attempt to prove to the world that I am not scrambling for the limelight, what it has done for someone like Samaria Rice is allowed other people to define who I am for her. And ultimately I learned that she didn’t even know most of what I had done for her. That’s my fault and I’ll never let that happen again. Sadly, people have lied to Samaria about me and about the fundraising I have done for her family. I’ll never fully know their intentions, but I am going to take time here to detail it all for you.
You can read the details in his post but the bottom line is that he claims to have never received a penny of the money he helped raise at the request of her various attorneys:
In total, I raised about $120,000 in cash for Tamir’s family. It was hard work. I never received a penny from those funds or anyone else – and would never expect as much.
But the claims that King had raised more and kept most of it continued to circulate on Twitter. This tweet from March was liked more than 15,000 times.
Shaun King raise $4.1 million in the name of Tamir Rice & gave Samaria Rice (his mother) 60K .
— BLACK. (@astoldbyharmony) March 20, 2021
His piece concludes:
I apologized to Samaria for not actually being in her face in 2014 and 2015 and wrongly assuming that the people around her were doing right by her. In an attempt to stay out of her hair, and give her space, I left her more alone than I understood. I regret that tremendously and moving forward I will make sure it never happens that way again.
Everything else – every harsh word said about me, every lie spread by people about my work for Samaria, I just have to let go of. For her. And for Tamir.
So it sounds as if he thought their conversation went as well as could be expected but obviously Samaria Rice didn’t feel the same. Honestly, between the two statements, King’s post seems pretty detailed and specific about what he did and Rice’s statement sounds a bit unhinged. Specifically, it’s not clear how King robbed her if he never got any of the money he raised (he says it was doled out by the courts to Samaria Rice and Tamir’s estranged father). Also, King never claimed that she directly approved any fundraising. He said that her attorneys did that on her behalf. Either King is lying or Rice should take it up with her representatives.
Of course this isn’t the first time King has been accused of mismanaging funds. So his credibility is very much at issue. Back in 2019, Deray McKesson wrote a lengthy piece accusing King of being a poor leader who dupes people around him. King is also the person who promoted a false story about the rape of a woman by a police officer. Bodycam footage later proved that wasn’t true.
And finally, there’s the whole question of King’s own race, something Samaria Rice is obviously reviving with her Instagram statement. That became a story back in 2015. I won’t rehash the whole thing here but there’s a Vox explainer you can read if you’re interested. The short version is that King’s mother is white and the father listed on his birth certificate is also white but he claims his actual father is a light-skinned black man his mother had an affair with.
All of that to say, even when King’s story sounds good he has a pretty long record of questionable claims. At this point so it’s difficult to take him at his word.