NBWJI Statement on the Police Killing of Ma’Khia Bryant
Updated: May 12
We are angry and anguished at learning that police in Columbus, OH, killed Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old Black girl. Ma’Khia called the police for help, and an officer killed her. The police did not de-escalate the situation. Instead, they responded with violence and almost immediately the officer chose to shoot her. Police do not protect or keep our communities safe; they inflict serious harm, and their presence creates a culture of fear.
As we have seen again and again, interactions with police are devastating, traumatizing, and sometimes deadly for Black girls. Law enforcement and others continue to view Black girls as less innocent and more adult-like—known as “adultification.” This leads to responses from law enforcement that criminalize Black girls, cause more trauma, and do nothing to protect public safety.
Racial and gender inequities—including adultification bias—are embedded throughout U.S. systems and institutions and make it more likely that Black women and girls will come into contact with law enforcement and the U.S. criminal-legal system. This is why we must dismantle this racist & sexist system that denies Black women and girls access to safety, well-being, economic stability, and life. And in its place, we must build pathways to opportunity and healing for those who have been neglected and harmed for so long.
About the National Black Women’s Justice Institute
The National Black Women’s Justice Institute's mission is to research, elevate, and educate the public about innovative, community-driven solutions to address the criminalization of Black women and girls. We aim to dismantle the racist and sexist US criminal-legal system and build, in its place, pathways to opportunity and healing. We envision a society that respects, values, and honors the humanity of Black women and girls, takes accountability for the harm it has inflicted, and recognizes that justice is healing.