Read the Marshall Project on police use of force against Black girls

In the report, Columbus is cited as one of the cities where girls who experienced force by police were overwhelmingly and disproportionately Black

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Family and friends attend a visitation and funeral service for 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant at the First Church of God on April 30, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio.

In a new report, the Marshall Project looked at data pertaining to police use of force on young people under the age of 17 in six cities: Columbus, New Orleans, Chicago, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, and Portland, Oregon.

Of the 4,000 cases the journalists examined from between 2015 and 2020, almost 800 of the children and teens, or nearly a fifth of the total, were Black girls. (By comparison, white girls were involved in roughly 120 cases, representing 3 percent of the use-of-force cases against minors.)

The report also references a 2017 study by the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality which found that adults often see Black girls as older and less innocent than white girls of the same age.

In an interview with Alive following the police killing of teenager Ma'Khia Bryant earlier this year, Dr. Marya T. Mtshali, Lecturer in Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality at Harvard University and postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Kennedy School, traced a line from a Twitter post by Mayor Andrew Ginther in which he described the teenaged Bryant as "a young woman" to the reality that Black girls are treated more harshly within American society.

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“Black girls and women are constructed in our society as violent, aggressive and more masculine than girls and women of other races. Additionally, research shows that Black children are viewed as adults earlier in life than white children, and this is reflected in a belief that they should be held accountable and responsible in the same way that adults are,” Mtshali said. “We have seen this reflected not only in Mayor Ginther’s comment, but also in school punishments and court sentencing for Black children, where they are treated more harshly than white children."

Read the whole report from the Marshall Project here.