HUNDREDS of protesters took to the streets on Wednesday night to demonstrate against the police shooting Ma’Khia Bryant.
Bryant, 16, was shot dead by officer Nicholas Reardon in Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday, moments before Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd in Minnesota.
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Just one day after the fatal shooting, a group of between 200 and 250 activists marched through the streets of Columbus, chanting "black lives matter" and "say her name".
Beginning at 9:30pm, the group marched down Marconi Boulevard past the Ohio Supreme Court.
Earlier Wednesday, protests and a vigil were also staged across the city, with groups gathering to pray for the Bryant family.
A 16-minute silence was held during the vigil to remember the teen, with each minute representing one year of Bryant's life.
Hundreds of students from Ohio State University also staged a sit-in at the union building and called on the university to cut ties with the Columbus Police Department in the wake of the shooting.
Bryant's death has caused outrage beyond the community of Columbus.
Officials with the Columbus Division of Police released bodycam footage of the incident on Tuesday night, just hours after Bryant was shot dead.
In the graphic video, two girls can be seen arguing before a cop, later identified as Reardon, shouts "Get down" and then fires his weapon four times – just seconds after arriving on scene.
Bryant immediately collapses in the road next to a parked car. She was later pronounced dead in hospital.
Police said Bryant was lunging at the other girl with a knife at the time Reardon opened fire.
What appears to be a black-handled blade – similar to a kitchen knife or steak knife – is seen laying on the ground next to her body.
A male bystander is heard shouting at the officer, "you didn't have to shoot her! She's just a kid, man".
Reardon responds: "She had a knife. She just went at her."
Reardon, who joined the force in 2019, has since been placed on paid leave pending an investigation into the shooting.
On Tuesday Hazel Bryant, who identified herself as Ma'Khia's aunt, said she believes police are not going to be truthful about what happened to her niece.
"The police are going to lie," she told reporters. "I’m so thankful that someone from the family was actually on the scene."
“The police are going to lie. The police are going to cover up for themselves. They don’t care," she added.
"At this point, I feel like they’re just out to kill Black people. They’re not here to protect and serve. That isn’t happening. That’s been over a long time ago. They’re not here to protect and serve. They’re here to kill Black folks."
"She was a good kid. She was loving. She didn’t deserve to die like a dog in the street."
Bryant was in foster care with Franklin County Children's Services at the time of her death.
Her family claim it was Bryant who had called police on Tuesday, because she was being abused by someone at the foster home.
The teenager's great-grandmother Ila Bryant told the Daily Beast her death resembles the killing of 26-year-old emergency room aide Breonna Taylor, who was shot dead by police at her home in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 13, 2020.
Taylor, whose death propelled nationwide racial injustice protests last year, was killed when cops executed a no-knock warrant at her apartment as she slept with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.
"It looks to me like that’s what the police wanted to do, to kill her. I’m just trying to figure out why," Ila said.
"We have to remember that we should love each other."
Mom Paula Bryant described her daughter as a "sweet child" who was on the honor roll at school.
"She was a very loving, peaceful little girl," Paula Bryant told WBNS.
She added: "Ma'Khia had a motherly nature about her. She promoted peace."
"That's something that I want to always be remembered."
Bryant's death has caused outrage nationwide as her killing is the second high-profile fatal shooting of a teenager by police in the last month.
Bodycam footage released by Chicago PD showed an officer shooting and killing 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who was unarmed with his hands in the air when the fatal shots were fired.
"It's a tragedy. There's no other way to say it. It's a 16-year-old. I'm a father," Interim Columbus Police Chief Michael Woods told reporters on Wednesday.
"Her family is grieving. Regardless of the circumstances associated with this, a 16-year-old lost her life yesterday," he continued. "I sure as hell wish it wouldn't have happened."
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called the shooting "tragic" and confirmed President Joe Biden has been briefed on the matter.
"She was a child. We're thinking of her friends and family and the communities that are hurting and grieving her loss," Psaki said.
NBA star LeBron James also voiced his outrage on Wednesday, tweeting a picture of Reardon with the caption: "You're Next #Accountability" before swiftly deleting it.
The shooting happened about 25 minutes before a judge read the verdict convicting former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin of murder and manslaughter in the fatal arrest of George Floyd last May.
It also took place less than 5 miles from where the funeral for Andre Hill, who was killed by another Columbus police officer in December, was held earlier this year.
The officer who shot Hill, 19-year veteran Adam Coy, is now facing trial for murder, with the next hearing scheduled for April 28.
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