Activists say fatal shooting of Black girl by Columbus police proves Chauvin verdict is ‘not enough’

A crowd gathers following at the scene of fatal police shooting on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 near Legion Lane on the east side of Columbus, Ohio. Ma'Khia Bryant, 16, was shot and killed as officers responded to an attempted stabbing call. (Photo: Brooke LaValley/Columbus Dispatch)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Zach Usmani gripped his phone, shoulders hunched over the steering wheel as he sat in his parked car outside a gym in Columbus, Ohio. He was watching a video livestream when Judge Peter Cahill read the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.

Wow, Usmani thought, as Chauvin was convicted on two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter in the of death of George Floyd, who died while Chauvin had him handcuffed with a knee on his neck.  

The 32-year-old said he felt relieved, but not satisfied.

“I hope people recognize this is not enough and this alone is not justice,” he said. 

A half-hour later, news broke that Columbus police had shot and killed a 16-year-old Black girl after responding to a 911 call at 4:35 p.m. EDT Tuesday about an attempted stabbing.

What we know about the fatal shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant: Columbus police release bodycam footage; officer on leave

The deep sighs of relief, drawn by the Black community, protesters, activists and allies after Chauvin’s guilty verdict were punctured by the news of another death of a Black person at the hands of police.

“Relief is just so tepid. It’s tepid because I know this does not protect the next person from getting shot, protect the next person from being brutalized,” Usmani said. “The police just can’t stop themselves from killing Black people even with all the attention on this.”

The shooting comes as many advocates – from community activists to members of Floyd’s family to high-profile civil rights attorney Ben Crump – around the country stress that progress is still needed in the areas of police reform and racial equity.

“Given the history of these kinds of cases, I was surprised,” Floyd’s brother, Terrence, told the USA TODAY Network on Tuesday in New York’s Times Square. “I know there’s still more work to be done.”

Body camera video released by Columbus police Tuesday shows an officer approaching a driveway with a group of young people standing around. In the video, it appears that the 16-year-old, identified as Ma’Khia Bryant, pushes or swings at a person who falls to the ground.

Bryant then appears to swing a knife at a girl who is on the hood of a car, and the officer fires his weapon what sounds like four times, striking the girl.

A police officer shot and killed 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant after arriving on the scene to respond to reports of attempted stabbing in Columbus, Ohio.


‘We have to keep going’

Ramon Obey II, an activist and president of JUST (Justice, Unity & Social Transformation), a community organization in Columbus that hosts a biweekly food program, watched the Chauvin verdict on TV with his mom, sister and younger brother.

“We were very unsure on how this would turn out,” he said, recalling how his mom remembered being glued to the TV almost 30 years ago after the officers who beat Rodney King were acquitted.

The 23-year-old described the feeling of hearing a guilty verdict to the butterflies in your stomach that drop while riding a rollercoaster.

“I’m flabbergasted,” he said. “It’s honestly like the words can’t come to me quick enough, because even though I’ve seen a man murdered on video, I didn’t know if America had seen a man murdered on video.”

But his excitement was short-lived.

After hearing news of the police shooting in Columbus on Tuesday, Obey said he was unsurprised.

“The system of policing is broken, and until change takes place we are doomed to keep repeating these tragedies,” he said.

More from the Columbus Dispatch: Protesters march in Downtown Columbus as Chauvin verdict overshadowed by police shooting

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