Honestie Hodges, a 14-year-old Black teen from Michigan, died of COVID-19, adding her name to the growing list of people in America taken by a deadly, preventable virus due to the current lack of presidential leadership.
Through a GoFundMe, Honestie’s family is asking for the public’s help to raise money for a proper burial.
Honestie was not only a victim of COVID-19 but she also suffered under the weight of state-sanctioned violence in 2017. That was when, at the age of 11, Grand Rapids police handcuffed her at gunpoint while searching for a suspect in a stabbing, the New York Times reported. In the video, the child can be heard sobbing and pleading while her grandmother, Alisa Niemeyer, yells for officers to acknowledge that she’s a child.
After several minutes, police removed the handcuffs once they realized they were mistaken. Incredulously, the department later found that officers did not violate policy. In 2018, the Grand Rapids Police Department developed the “Honestie Policy,” a youth-interaction that calls for fewer restrictions.
Later, Honestie spoke to MLive.com about the terrifying ordeal when officers obviously mistook her and her family members as criminal suspects.
“I have a question for the Grand Rapids police: If this happened to a white child, if her mother was screaming, ‘She’s 11,’ would you have handcuffed her and put her in the back of a police car?” she asked. “That’s the question I have.”
Over the summer, Honestie’s family was in mediation with city and police authorities due to the 2017 event, according to WOOD-TV.
Throughout her sickness, her family kept the faith after Honestie was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this month on her birthday, Nov. 9. After initially being sent home after her diagnosis, she was rushed to the hospital and admitted to the ICU. The virus caused different challenges in her body, including fluid in her stomach, brain complications and an elevated heart rate, forcing her to be placed on a ventilator.
This past Sunday, Honestie’s grandmother updated the GoFundMe page with the news that the teen had succumbed to the virus. “It is with an extremely heavy heart that I have to tell all of you that my beautiful, sassy, smart loving Granddaughter has gone home to be with Jesus,” Niemeyer wrote.
Community members held a vigil to honor her memory earlier this week.
Her family is now struck with tragedy during a pandemic that has disproportionately ravaged Black communities. Honestie’s mother, who works on the frontline as a nurse’s aid, struggled to financially support her family after Honestie fell ill, according to the GoFundMe page. She rightfully opted to be by her daughter’s side instead of attending work, a challenge that many low-income families face at the prospect of illness.
The GoFundMe money will also go towards helping the family financially sustain, as Honestie’s mother has four other children to support.
Condolences to Honestie’s family and loved ones during this difficult time.