Students Demand Ohio State Cut Ties With Police After Ma'Khia Bryant Shooting

Students at Ohio State University gathered on Wednesday to demand the school cut ties with the Columbus Division of Police following the fatal police shooting of 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant.

Photos and videos of the protests were posted across social media, showing students gathered across different parts of campus, including the university's student activity center, the Ohio Union.

Twitter user Benjamin McKean, who is an associate professor in the department of political science at Ohio State University, posted one photo showing students sitting in the Ohio Union "to demand @OhioState cut ties with @ColumbusPolice," following the shooting of Bryant.

"Huge crowd of @OhioState students now taking the streets to demand OSU cut ties with @ColumbusPolice after the killing of Ma'Khia Bryant yesterday," McKean wrote in a subsequent tweet, with pictures of students marching through the streets. One student can be seen holding a "BLM" sign in support of Black Lives Matter.

Huge crowd of @OhioState students now taking the streets to demand OSU cut ties with @ColumbusPolice after the killing of Ma’Khia Bryant yesterday

— Benjamin McKean (@BLMcKean) April 21, 2021

Pranav Jani, an associate professor in the department of English at Ohio State, also shared numerous photos and videos of the protests on Wednesday.

"Check that. Several hundred. Now occupying = taking back = the Ohio Union. And making it a student union again," Jani captioned one tweet with several pictures of the students filling the Ohio Union.

Two other videos posted by Bryant show the mass of students gathered in the Ohio Union. In one of the videos, the students can be heard clapping while the second shows the students chanting "Bryant" in support of the 16-year-old Black girl.

Hundreds occupying the Ohio Union to protest police murder #makhiabryant #BlackLivesMatter

— Pranav Jani (@redguju) April 21, 2021

According to the Ohio Lantern, an independent student-published newspaper at Ohio State, organizers of the protest criticized the university for failing to acknowledge the fatal shooting of Bryant.

The Lantern reported that Roaya Higazi—identified by the Lantern as a former undergraduate student president—spoke to the crowd and outlined a number of demands the university's student government wants to see, which included terminating contracts with the Columbus Division of Police, reallocating police funds to university student support officers and limiting the presence of Columbus Police officers in the university's off-campus living areas.

In a statement sent to Newsweek, a spokesperson for Ohio State said, "The Ohio State University Police Division (OSUPD) is the primary law enforcement agency on all of our campuses. In Columbus, we contract with the Columbus Division of Police (CPD) for specific services, largely traffic control for athletics events. We also have a mutual-aid agreement in place that allows our OSUPD to assist CPD off campus."

The statement also reads: "Ohio State supports the right of our students, faculty and staff to peacefully express their views and to speak out about issues that are important to them. Freedom of speech and civic engagement are central to our values as an institution of higher education."

Ohio State
Students stage a sit-in at the Ohio Union building on the campus of Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio on April 21, 2021 to protest the killing of MaKhia Bryant, 16, by the Columbus Police Department. Jeff Dean/Getty

The protests across Ohio State came shortly after the Columbus Division of Police released the body camera footage of the fatal shooting of Bryant. In the video, an officer can be seen shooting Bryant after she charged two other females with a knife. One officer can be heard saying, "She had a knife. She just went at her," after they picked up what appeared to be a knife near Bryant's body.

The officer was identified by CPD as Officer Nicholas Reardon, a one-year-veteran with the department.

"It's a tragedy. There's no other way to say it. It's a 16-year-old girl," Columbus Police interim Chief Michael Woods told reporters on Wednesday.