A 13-year-old activist gave a speech during a local city commission meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that just had to have made her parents’ hearts swell with pride. Long tired of city leaders sitting on their hands following the deadly police shooting of Patrick Lyoya during a traffic stop in April, Naiara Tamminga called city commissioners “accomplices” to murder during a meeting on May 17. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Lyoya’s family and has been a fierce advocate for the public release of video in the shooting, tweeted video of Naiara’s speech on Wednesday.
“You know, we had someone come up here and talk: ‘And don't teach our children to disobey those who are protecting us.’ I don't see them protecting me,” Naiara said of police officers. A group of peers stood behind her. “If you want to talk about those protecting me, I look to those who are standing right now because my trust is in them,” the activist said. “I don't trust any of you. I don't trust any of the police officers because you have shown time and time again that we cannot trust you.”
RELATED STORY: Police in Michigan release video footage of Grand Rapids officer fatally shooting Patrick Lyoya
Lyoya was shot and killed after police stopped him to investigate an unregistered license plate. Police Chief Eric Winstrom said Lyoya had a "lengthy struggle" with the officer who at one point pulled out a Taser, according to the Associated Press.
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Crump’s office said in a petition to have the officer fired, arrested, and prosecuted that “resisting an arrest shouldn't end in a death sentence.”
"This officer should NOT have served as the judge, jury, AND executioner," Crump's office said. "Patrick never used violence against this officer, even though the officer used violence against him – in several instances. Patrick’s fate is every Black family’s nightmare."
Read the full transcription of Naiara’s speech:
“My name is Naiara Taminga. I am 13 years old. I've lived in Grand Rapids almost my whole life. I'm gonna say it again. I’m 13 years old. All of you are adults. Adults, right. You can drive, you can drink, you can vote. I don't have that. When I asked my mom if I could be dropped off here, her response was, ‘Is it safe?’
Is it safe? You know, we had someone come up here and talk. ‘And don't teach our children to disobey those who are protecting us.’ I don't see them protecting me. If you want to talk about those protecting me, I look to those who are standing right now because my trust is in them.
I don't trust any of you. I don't trust any of the police officers because you have shown time and time again that we cannot trust you. I go to City High Middle School. Just voted the top high school. Top high school in the state.
You know what they teach us? Teach us to speak up for yourself. We're IB learners, right? We're smart. None of you are smart?
None of you can recognize murderers? You can identify that there is a problem, but you cannot fix it. I don't know much about the law. Again, I'm young, but I'm pretty sure an accomplice to a murder should be arrested. And right now, all of you sitting and doing nothing are accomplices to a murder.
(...) I am frustrated and frustrated can't even begin how absolutely terrified I am to live here. I'm expected, I’m expected to raise my kids here. I'm expected to go outside and walk my 5-year-old little brother. God forbid we look too scary.
God forbid he accidentally is wearing his hood, and we get the police called on us because we are ‘window shopping to go steal later.’ I don't want to keep coming here. Trust me, this is not how I want to spend my night. I don't want to come here.
I don't want to sit here and I don't want to have to beg you to stop killing people. That's not what I want to do. I have friends. I have other things that I could be doing. And I'm sitting in front of a group of adults who think murder is okay.
You can't sit here and tell me you don't think murder is OK because you're allowing it to happen. If you want to talk about God, you want to talk about Jesus. I'm a Christian. I don't know what God some of these people believe in, but it sure ain’t mine. I I have never read in the Bible where he said we should allow the people who are supposed to be protecting us kill us.
I'm sorry. Maybe I missed that scripture, though. I don't want to do this. I don't want to do this. Please, please do not make me sit here and scream another name.
Do not sit here and make me beg and God forbid that name is mine. God forbid that name is any of these people. God forbid. Thank you.”
The Grand Rapids Association of Pastors echoed much of Naiara's concern at a press conference to announce a "Call for Justice Sunday," which is planned for the Christian observance of Pentecost, according to MLive.
More than 50 local leaders of faith representing organizations including the Black Clergy Coalition and the Greater Grand Rapids NAACP backed a list of five demands following Lyoya’s death. Their demands include a federal investigation into the policing culture at the Grand Rapids Police Department, involvement in police union contract negotiations, more resources for the city’s Civilian Appeal Board and Office of Oversight and Public Accountability, and protection from threats or intimidation for those seeking to protest Lyoya's killing.
The pastors also advocated for Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker to recuse himself from deciding whether Christopher Schurr, the officer who killed Lyoya, will be charged. Becker has advocated against the immediate and public release of video in the case.
He said in a statement released in April that after a partial investigative report from the Michigan State Police, he is in "regular contact with their investigators" and is seeking expert guidance. "I recognize the investigation appears to be moving painstakingly slowly," Becker said in the statement. "However, as in all cases that come before this office, it is imperative that I review all the facts and evidence before making a charging decision."
It’s unclear how long Becker plans to wait.