Ma’Khia Bryant‘s family and loved ones will come together on Friday to celebrate her short life taken too soon at the hands of police violence.
Ma’Khia will be laid to rest at 1 p.m. at the The First Church of God, the same church that hosted the funerals of other Black, Columbus community members slain by police, Casey Goodson Jr., and Andre Hill. Her wake is scheduled at 12 p.m., prior to the funeral service.
“Grief is like wet sand. When you add to that tragedy, that weight only becomes greater,” the church’s pastor, Bishop Timothy Clarke, told WBNS.
The weight of the collective grief, where three community members’ deaths made national news in the span on a year has not been lost on Clarke.
“That’s been my heart now. What can we as the city do to bury this baby with the dignity she deserves,” Clarke said.
Over the last week community members have gathered to hold vigils for Ma’Khia who was shot and killed on April 20 by Columbus police officer Nicholas Reardon. Body cam footage released shortly after her death made national news shows Reardon as he pulls up to a Columbus residence. In the video, Ma’Khia is seen charging towards a woman while holding a knife. As Reardon orders Ma’Khia to drop the weapon, he fires, fatally striking Ma’Khia.
The Ohio Criminal Bureau of Investigation has launched a probe into the shooting, and Reardon was placed on administrative leave until the investigation concludes.
There are still several questions surrounding the circumstances on what led up to a 16-year-old teen feeling that the threat on her life was imminent enough for her to resort to violence as a form of protection. On social media, several people have speculated that Ma’Khia was defending herself against adult women who planned to jump her. Police have not helped to foster or dismantle any narrative, and are struggling to open a honest and transparent conversation around what led to her death. As a ward of the state in foster care, Ma’Khia’s history and experiences in the foster care system could shed light on many of those factors.
The incident reignited a conversation around police violence towards Black women who are often ignored in discussions around excessive force and its harmful effects on Black communities. Because of her gender and race, Ma’Khia’s case uncovered layers of misogynoir, fatphobia and adultification.
“Ma’Khia is worth grieving. We should give ourselves and others the gift of grace, gather around this family and guard and sustain them,” Clarke continued.
“We will grieve, but as the Bible says, not as those who have no hope. We will find a way to celebrate,” he said.