Hundreds of students at Ohio State University gathered on Wednesday inside the school’s Student Union, where they demanded the university sever ties with Columbus Police over Tuesday’s shooting of knife-wielding teen Ma’Khia Bryant.
“Say her name. Ma’Khia Bryant. Say her name,” the students repeated over and over again during their protest, according to a report by the Columbus Dispatch.
The protesters also demanded that the university sever its ties with the Columbus Division of Police, after ones of its officers fatally shot 16-year-old Bryant, who, at the time of the shooting, could be seen wielding a knife while lunging at another girl, according to the body cam video later released by the agency.
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) April 22, 2021
Some of the signs brought to the student protest, read, “Stop Killing Black Ppl,” “Stop Killing Us,” “Defund the Police,” “Say Their Names,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “White Students Can Riot But Black Children Can’t Live,” among other statements.
Ohio State University students hold a sit-in at the Ohio Union to demand that OSU sever ties with Columbus Police Department in the wake of the killing of 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant in Columbus. Photo by @gmorsephoto pic.twitter.com/dOJdIZ4WXs
— corinne_perkins (@corinne_perkins) April 21, 2021
The protesters also held a 16-minute moment of silence for Bryant.
Later, demonstrators made their way outside, and marched down North High Street to the Ohio Statehouse, with more students joining from the Student Union.
Columbus police cruisers created rolling roadblocks along North High Street to stop oncoming traffic, and two police helicopters flew overhead as the protesters got closer to downtown, reports the Columbus Dispatch.
— Karina Cheung (@KarinaCheungTV) April 21, 2021
One student’s sign read, “Pres. Johnson, if you actually care, cut ties w/ CPD now,” directed at Ohio State University president Kristina Johnson. Another protester’s sign read, “How can I be free when the next one could be me?”
— Stacia Naquin (@StaciaWSYX6) April 21, 2021
During their protest, demonstrators also called for abolition of the police, and reread a list of five demands that Ohio State’s student government issued last summer, after the death of George Floyd.
The five demands read as follows:
1. The Ohio State University Police Department (OSUPD) immediately cease contractual agreements with Columbus Police Department for any and all on-campus investigations, services, and events.
2. The OSUPD immediately cease Mutual Aid service contracts with the Columbus Police Department and strongly reevaluate Joint Patrol operations to restrict the presence of and limit the frequency of calls to CPD officers and resources in the off-campus living areas.
3. The Ohio State University no longer accept federal, military-grade resources and reduce OSUPD’s budget for expenditures that may be used for further militarization. Instead, reallocate the funds to further invest in student support units, such as the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Student Life Multicultural Center, Student Life Counseling and Consultation Services, or the Student Life Student Wellness Center.
4. The OSU Department of Public Safety release an action plan, devised with student input, that affirms the commitment to Black student safety and overall university safety through disarmed, anti-force, and culturally competent practices.
5. The Ohio State University acknowledge and condemn the anti-Black violence the Columbus Police Department committed against Ohio State students and the greater Columbus community.
On Wednesday, Ohio State University issued the following statement to ABC6/FOX28 regarding the protests:
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.
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.