Crowds gathered at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus on Saturday (May 1) as demonstrators, members of Ma’Khia Bryant and Casey Goodson’s families and more united to demand accountability and justice over their deaths at the hands of police.
Ma’Khia’s mother, Paula Bryant, was one of the people who spoke and described her 16-year-old daughter, as an honor roll student who loved the color blue and creating TikTok videos. Paula also said Ma’Khia had a great sense of humor and was kind to anyone she met.
“She had a beautiful smile, was loving and had a beautiful personality,” she told all who gathered Saturday afternoon, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “She was a protector and had a motherly spirit about her.”
Bryant was shot and killed on April 20 by Columbus police officer Nicholas Reardon. The tragic incident happened outside of the foster home she lived in, after Reardon responded to a 911 dispatch call. Officers were dispatched after receiving a call of an attempted stabbing in the 3100 block of Legion Lane. Paula Bryant said Ma’Khia called police because girls were outside of the house fighting. Body camera footage shows Reardon approaching the driveway where the fight took place, before yelling “Get down.” Four shots were fired at Bryant.
The shooting has led to protests in Ohio and sparked nationwide outrage.
Paula Bryant was joined by attorney Michelle Martin, who is representing the Bryant family. She says she wanted Bryant to speak to change the narrative around the teens and other children killed by police.
"I want to give Ms. Bryant the opportunity to share with you all who Ma'Khia is and was so that you can take that narrative back, because as they continue to villainize our babies, we have to really tell their stories," Martin said, according to the newspaper. "We have to tell who our children are. We have to keep them as children."
Tamala Payne, the mother of Casey Goodson, was also in attendance and addressed the crowd, as well as Deaunte Bell’s mother Tania Hudson. Bell was fatally shot by Columbus police in 2015.
The demonstration comes a day after Ma’Khia Bryant’s funeral, which was held at the First Church of God in the city’s Southeast side.
A “Back the Blue Freedom Rally!” was also supposed to take place at the Statehouse on Saturday, however it was postponed due to security issues.