Just as the guilty verdict for Derek Chauvin was announced, Columbus police shot and killed another Black person, this time a sixteen-year-old girl named Ma’Khia Bryant. This was the second police shooting of a Black person in Columbus during the Derek Chauvin trial, following Miles Jackson, who was killed inside of Mount Carmel St. Ann’s hospital.
While the guilty verdict in the Chauvin trial was a victory for the movement, the recent shootings of Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, Miles Jackson, and now Ma’Khia Bryant highlight that these killer cops are not just bad apples; the entire tree is rotten. The depths to which racism is ingrained in our system were especially brought out by recent events leading up to the shooting of Bryant.
First, Columbus police told the media that they had stopped an “active shooter” in the case of Miles Jackson, when body camera footage clearly showed that they tased him while patting him down, restrained him, and shot him on the floor. Later, at a protest calling for justice with Daunte Wright, police arrested Hunter Mattin on aggravated burglary charges – a first degree felony – after he allegedly struck an officer with a wooden stick. These trumped up charges are only a small taste of the crackdown on Black Lives Matter and the left, including four anti-protest bills being pushed through the Ohio statehouse that could make it a felony to protest, and could legally justify the actions of those like Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed protesters in Kenosha last summer.
Following these protests, Columbus Mayor Ginther released a statement on Twitter saying, “Violence and destruction will not be tolerated.” Yet only four days later, a riot broke out near Ohio State’s campus following a spring football game, in which people flipped multiple parked cars. Though the police were notified at 10:45pm, they did not arrive on the scene until 3:00am, and no arrests were made.
Members of Socialist Alternative joined hundreds of protesters on the night that Ma’Khia Bryant was shot. Speakers demanded cuts to the police budget, and putting those funds towards social services like education, housing, and jobs instead. As protesters marched, they were joined by an inspiring parade of cars who honked in support, including a number of bus drivers.
The killings of Ma’Khia Bryant, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, and Miles Jackson show that, despite the Chauvin verdict, there is still a need to fight for and win long-lasting, systemic change. To do so, we need to expand the Black Lives Matter movement, and call on unions and workers, like nurses, teachers, bus drivers, Amazon workers, and others to join the struggle against racist police violence.
Columbus Socialist Alternative calls for:
- #BlackLivesStillMatter: Chauvin was convicted because of our movement. We need mass, coordinated protests and days of action. We need to call on unions to support the fight for black lives.
- Prosecute the Police: Immediately indict and charge the officers involved in the murders of Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, Ma’Khia Bryant, and Miles Jackson.
- Community Control of the Police: We need real, democratically elected and accountable community control of the police – not a watered down civilian review board – including control over hiring, firing, reviewing budget priorities, and the power to subpoena.
- Disarm and Demilitarize the Police: National Guard troops occupied Minneapolis in the leadup to the Chauvin verdict while militarized police wreaked havoc in working class communities across the country. We need to disarm cops on patrol and demilitarize police departments everywhere.
- Fund Schools, Housing, and Jobs – NOT cops: Defund the police by at least 50%, tax the rich, and put funds towards our public schools, permanently affordable housing, and living wage green jobs!
- The Whole System is Guilty: To win lasting change, the fight against police racism and the corporate political establishment must be expanded into a fight against our profit-driven system itself.