Instead of body camera footage, social media has chosen to remember how Ma’Khia Bryant lived her life. Since her death, Bryant’s TikTok videos have gone viral. The 16-year-old was shot and killed by an Ohio police officer on Tuesday. Her death occurred before former Minneapolis officer Derrick Chauvin was convicted for the murder of George Floyd.
How it happened
Body camera footage was released hours after the incident. The video shows a police officer approaching Bryant and a group of people. Bryant appears to charge with a knife at a girl and the officer fires what sounded like four shots. The teen later died from her wounds.
The circumstances surrounding the shooting have been debated. But Bryant’s aunt, Hazel Bryant, told The Dispatch that her niece had gotten into an altercation with a girl she shared a group home with. Her aunt also insisted that Bryant dropped the knife before she was shot. Bryant’s family told NPR that she was the person who originally called the police for help and asked them to come and protect her from the group of girls who tried to harm her.
Nicholas Reardon, the officer who shot Bryant is on paid administrative leave.
Bryant’s TikTok videos gone viral
As of Thursday, Bryant’s original TikTok account has been deleted. However, that has not stopped many people from sharing her TikTok videos. According to Newsweek, her videos were viewed over 1 million times following her death. It seemed Bryant loved good music and haircare. Most of her videos showed her styling her natural hair.
“This is the only kind of imagery of her I want to see. no narratives of exceptionalism,” one person tweeted. “no using her flaws as means to justify tragic ends. just her being. that’s enough of a reason to love her & be angry she’s gone.”
Look at the art. Look at this black girl magic. Look at her joy! Look at that smile and that face. What a beauty. What a baby. Ma’Khia Bryant was just 16 years old. pic.twitter.com/r995IPGDL2
— miela fetaw / ሜላ ፍታዉ (@mielafetaw) April 21, 2021
Support and backlash for Bryant
Rallies have begun to take place in Bryant’s name in Columbus and across the country. On Wednesday, students at Ohio State University demonstrated.
— Pranav Jani (@redguju) April 21, 2021
Celebrities like Kerry Washington and Lebron James have spoken out about Bryant’s death. James had posted and deleted a picture of the officer who allegedly shot Bryant and captioned it, “You’re next.” He later followed up with a tweet and said his previous one was being used to “create more hate.”
“This isn’t about one officer,” he tweeted on Wednesday. “It’s about the entire system and they always use our words to create more racism. I am so desperate for more ACCOUNTABILITY”
However, there are others such as actor and comedian, Terrance K. Williams, who believed the shooting was justified.
“A Police officer shot and killed a teenage girl name Makiah Bryant,” Williams tweeted a reaction video. “She look like she was about to slaughter the other girl like a pig with that big Butcher look knife The officer is not racist! He saved another black life. Yes it’s all sad!”
The backlash against comments such as those is refuted by people such as Brittney Cooper of The Crunk Feminist.
“A Black girl is dead because the cops brought a gun to a damn knife fight,” Cooper tweeted. “If you don’t know how to de-escalate teen girls who are fighting, you should not be a police officer. I said what I said.”
The Columbus police department intends to conduct a full investigation.