What you missed in Columbus for April 26

The Dispatch profiles Ma’Khia Bryant as protests continue, and Mother Jones wonders what the hell is going on with the Columbus police department

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Ma'Khia Bryant

Ma’Khia Bryant was happiest when she was styling hair, according to this Dispatch profile published over the weekend. The teenager, who was shot and killed by a Columbus police officer on the same day that a Minnesota jury delivered a guilty verdict against Derek Chauvin, is described as kind and caring in an extended feature that paints a picture not only of who Bryant was to those who knew her, but what she could have become down the road.

"She had done the research to know that the lash industry was coming," teacher Austin Owens said of Bryant’s five-year plan to start her own business. "It wasn't just own a boutique. It was to own a lashes company. … She wanted to have these things that would allow her to be a productive citizen. She knew what she wanted to be."

In the wake of the shooting, protests in support of Bryant and other Black Columbus citizens killed by police continued through the weekend. "Today we are here to continue to lift up the life of Ma'Khia Bryant," organizer Hana Abdur-Rahim told a crowd on Sunday, according to Dispatch reports. "I don't need a video to know she was a child and she deserved to live."

Relatedly, Mother Jones recently published a feature headlined “What the Hell Is Going on at the Columbus Police Department,” which documents not just the high number of police brutality cases brought against CPD, but how few resulted in any disciplinary action. The feature points to one CPD officer, Phillip L. Walls, who used force 154 times between 2001 and 2018 but only faced discipline once in the form of reprimand and counseling.

Part of the difficulty of reprimanding officers can be traced to the strength of the police union contract, which is currently in the process of being renegotiated. 

More:The city and the FOP: A decades-old drama boils over

Finally, a new report by NBC 4 found that three in four Columbus police officers live outside of the city, which critics have said could lead to harsher policing, since the officers might not identify as fully with the community they serve. “It’s not being able to understand differences in people, the color of their skin, the way they talk, the way they look — you have to be engaged,” Columbus NCAA president Nana Watson told NBC 4.

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COVID-19 cases in Ohio continued to decline this week, dropping nearly 19 percent, with 11,131 new cases reported. But while cases have declined and vaccine uptake has increased (one in three Ohioans have now been fully vaccinated), there are still a number of counties in the state where residents are forgoing the shots. Holmes County, in the northeastern corner of Ohio, for example, has only vaccinated 13 percent of its population.

Access plays a role in the divide, but so does vaccine hesitancy, which appears to be the case in Holmes County, where more than half of the population is Amish. Politics also play a factor, since Republicans are more likely to avoid the vaccine than Democrats. (Holmes County went 83 percent for Trump in the 2020 election, which he lost.)

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“Nomadland” was the biggest winner at the Oscars on Sunday, taking home awards for Best Picture, Best Director (Chloe Zhao, only the second woman and the first-ever woman of color to win the honor) and Best Actress (Frances McDormand). See the full list of winners here.

Among the highlights from the telecast was the acceptance speech given by Daniel Kaluuya, who mentioned his parents' sex life while receiving the award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Judas and the Black Messiah, which earned this reaction from his mother, who was in the audience to witness it all unfold.