Editor, The Messenger,

We can’t let Derek Chauvin’s slow motion murder of George Floyd be the new “low bar” for what we consider police abuse and the need for systematic police reform.

Just as the Chauvin video was a clear case of murder, the video of the shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant shows a clear case of an unnecessary death of a teenage girl.

The defenders of police abuse tell us to give deference to cops because they “risk their lives.” This video shows an officer willing to shoot a teenager four times and risking the lives of bystanders instead of risking injuring to himself to defend others. Here is a grown man confronted with a teenager with her back to him, he is armed with pepper spray, taser and gun, protected by body armor, trained and sworn to protect and serve. This officer demonstrated his inability or unwillingness to do his job properly and should be fired.

The bigger question is, why are officers so quick to escalate violence and why this violence is aimed disproportionately at black and brown people? Why is a black man asking in a calm voice “What’s going on?” met with threats and pepper spray? Why is a young man who panics jumping back in his car reason to grab for a taser much less a gun? Why is a teenage girl in the middle of a crisis welding a knife responded to with a drawn gun and four fatal shots?

This video justifies the demand to defund the police. This means reallocating money from a bloated and ineffectual police budget toward programs with proven success in preserving and improving people’s lives. This nation should be willing to allocate more than four fatal bullets to a teenage girl in trouble.

These police killings effect more than one person or one family, they traumatize whole communities. This was evident during the Chauvin trial as bystanders reproached themselves on the witness stand as to why they couldn’t have done more to save Mr. Floyd. We should all be asking ourselves that question. Nationwide, six people were killed by police in the 24 hours following the Chauvin verdict.

I have heard pundits and other not only fail to muster outrage over Ma’khia’s killing but even justify it by comparing it to what happened to George Floyd. We can’t let the brutality of Derek Chauvin’s slow motion murder be the new low bar for what we are willing to recognize as police abuse and the need for fundamental reform for real public safety for all.

Jeff Lyons

Athens Ohio

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