On Tuesday, 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was shot and killed by a police officer in Columbus, OH. The news, which broke after police released bodycam footage of the shooting just after Derek Chauvin was convicted for murdering George Floyd, has left many in shock and mourning. In the days following her death, people have been sharing Ma'Khia’s TikToks, which only serve as one more reminder that, no matter how police might try to justify or explain her murder, she was only a child.
Ma'Khia’s videos — mostly hair and beauty tutorials — have since been deleted from TikTok, but they’ve gone viral on Twitter. Before they were taken down, many TikTok users also duetted and stitched her videos, adding their own reactions and captions to her tutorials. One of Bryant’s videos received 2.6 million views on Twitter in two days; it has been retweeted over 31,000 times. In the TikTok, Ma'Khia smiles, blows a kiss, and dances to a Bryson Tiller song, all while showing off her haircare routine.
Ma'Khia was shot four times after she reportedly called the police for help. Ma'Khia’s aunt, Hazel Bryant, told the Ohio Statehouse News Bureau that she had gotten into an altercation with several older girls who were threatening her with assault. Ma'Khia was holding a knife when the police arrived, and Interim Chief of Police Michael Woods said that officers believed she was going to stab one or both of the girls she was seen pushing in the bodycam video. Nicholas Reardon, an officer at the scene, shot her four times.
Conservative pundits have already begun justifying her death by insisting that she posed a risk to the other girls. But this argument doesn’t take into account that Ma'Khia called the police for help to end the fight. And as many have mentioned, cops have been able to stop themselves from murdering white children and adults wielding guns. But Ma'Khia was a 16-year-old girl — not an adult, not a young woman — she was a child.
For the sake of “transparency,” Columbus police released graphic bodycam footage of her death, which also spread across social media. But experts agree that these videos can be traumatizing to watch. Beyond that, no one should be known as just another casualty of our racist, broken policing system. Instead, supporters have been sharing Ma'Khia’s TikToks as a way to commemorate her life, showing how she will — and should — be remembered: as a vivacious Black teenager full of life, excitement, and joy.
According to Ma'Khia’s mother, Paula Bryant, she was “a sweet child” who was excited to have recently made the honour roll. “She was a very loving, peaceful little girl,” Bryant told a 10TV reporter. “Ma’Khia had a motherly nature about her. She promoted peace, and that's something that I want to always to be remembered.”
Reardon has not been charged or investigated for Ma'Khia's death yet, and joins a long list of officers who have shot Black and brown people, especially in recent months. "Regardless of the circumstances associated with this, a 16-year-old girl lost her life yesterday. I sure as hell wish it hadn't happened," Woods said. Despite saying this now, right after her death, Woods said that protocol allows police to use deadly force as protection.