Around 6:20 p.m. on August 24, 21-year-old Ta’Kiya Young was outside of a Kroger in Blendon Township, Ohio, when she was accused by an employee of having previously shoplifted. Two police officers approached her vehicle and commanded her to get out. When Ta’Kiya did not get out of her vehicle, one of the officers fired a gunshot through the front windshield, killing her. Young was pregnant and the fetus did not survive the shooting.
On August 27, community members responded by gathering in front of the Kroger where Young was killed to demand justice and an end to police brutality. Family members attested to Young’s character, as local police have vilified her as a “thief” and a “danger to others” in a racist effort to justify taking her life.
Nadine Young, Ta’Kiya’s great grandmother, said, “She was a lively little lady, a fireball, a prankster who loved her kids. She was so crazy about her kids. She was head over heels about having this baby … No matter what happened, they didn’t have to take her life. There’s so many ways they could’ve handled it. They didn’t have to take this baby and that baby’s life.”
Malissa Thomas St. Clair from Mothers of Murdered Children of Columbus was Young’s high school teacher and had also taught another youth killed by police, Casey Goodson Jr. She described Young’s determination to live a good life, work hard and support her family, even in light of her first pregnancy at the age of 15: “She graduated high school and went on to college … Then she came back and said, ‘I told you I would do it.’”
Stacey Little, co-founder of the Central Ohio Freedom Fund, also described how Black mothers like Young are often targets of police brutality and incarceration, connecting this tragedy to reproductive justice and the right for Black mothers to live: “Accountability doesn’t equate a funeral … What gives anyone the right to take someone’s life? … Where’s [police] accountability with the preservation of life?”
Franklin County law enforcement has killed countless Black people — Andre Hill, Casey Goodson Jr., Donovan Lewis, Ma’Khia Bryant, Miles Jackson, Tyre King — the list of victims goes on. Less than 24 hours before, Franklin County law enforcement killed 36-year-old Jamie Overstreet, firing multiple shots after pursuing him on foot. Franklin County has been ranked 18th out of the 100 most populous cities in the United States for highest rates of fatal police shootings. Emily Cole, co-founder of Ohio Families United for Political Action and Change, stated that since 2000, at least 1,055 people have been killed by police in Ohio.
Speakers then highlighted the need to organize as a community against police brutality. Adrienne Hood, co-chair of OFUPAC, stated, “We have people who can’t walk in their neighborhoods without getting killed. We have people who can’t ride bicycles in their neighborhoods without getting killed … We have a system in this country, where most of the changes do not happen if we do not participate in it.”
Cole said, “We demand change. We demand accountability. We want an end to qualified immunity. We want the cops’ names released. We want them prosecuted! And we will come back everyday until that’s done.”
Community demands include ending police protections under Marsy’s law, which allows alleged victims of a crime the right to withhold identifying information from public release. Marsy’s law was signed into law in Ohio by Governor Mike DeWine earlier this year and provides a legal loophole for police officers who engage in misconduct if they can demonstrate that they were victims of a crime. Currently, Blendon Township police are arguing that Young intentionally tried to hit one of the police officers with her car.
The community demands are:
- Immediate release of unedited body cam footage of all officers on the scene.
- Immediate release of Kroger footage capturing the incident.
- Immediate release of all the names of officers who fired weapons at the scene.
Feature photo: Protesters gather in front of the Kroger in Blendon Township where Ta’Kiya Young was killed. Credit: Paul Becker, used with permission