CLEVELAND — Dozens gathered around noon at the snow-covered park where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was fatally shot in November for the first of two planned Martin Luther King Jr. Day marches.

A park bench near the spot where the boy was killed by a Cleveland police officer was covered with stuffed animals. On another bench sat black balloons bearing a sign that read, “Black Lives Matter.”

Weekly protests and demonstrations have been held in Cleveland since Tamir’s death, and that of Tanisha Anderson — a black woman who was killed by police who were helping to transport her for a medical evaluation.

“Some people think that we’re out here just causing problems,” said Courtney Drain, 21, a protest organizer who lives not far from the shooting site. “MLK marched in the streets, he blocked traffic. He wasn’t convenient.”

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Those gathered cited solidarity with the protests taking place nationwide, adding that although the killings of African Americans in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City may have been the sparks that ignited a movement, this flame has long burned in Cleveland.

Lashonda Edwards, 42, a mother of six who lives on Cleveland’s East Side, said that she worries each day about what might happen in a police encounter involving one of her children — even now that they are grown.

“We need to see real changes to this system,” Edwards said. “When police kill someone unjustly, they need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Tim Collingwood, 27, of Lakewood, Ohio, said that the afternoon March was his seventh protest, and that he will continue protesting until his city’s laws reflect its ideals.

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“I was bothered by Michael Brown, and Eric Garner. But then to have Tamir Rice and Tanisha Anderson right in my back yard. No. That was enough,” said Collingwood, whose sign declared: This is what civil rights looks like. “I couldn’t just talk about injustice anymore. I had to be out here doing something.”

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The protest was one of several planned in Cleveland, and drew several local elected officials – including members of the City Council.

Many city officials here have worked closely with protest groups to try to find common ground and legislative fixes to their complaints about police transparency.

One council member, Brian Cummins, attended the afternoon march with a sign that read, “Be inconvenienced. . . . Make time for police reform and justice.”

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