COLUMBUS, Ohio — They gathered in a circle Wednesday night, the crowd probably 300 strong, standing on the broken and weedy patch of parking lot pavement and chanting the 16-year-old girl's name.
Say her name. Ma'Khia Bryant. Say her name.
Over and over again.
A day after Bryant, a 16-year-old Black girl, was killed by a Columbus police officer, demonstrations spread throughout the city demanding justice and police accountability.
Among this group who came together at the site of an old school building on S. Douglass Street on the Near East Side were two of Bryant's three best friends.
Aaliyaha Tucker took the megaphone and and spoke in a near whisper at first, a voice so soft and gentle that she suddenly seemed much younger than her 16 years.
She had spoken to the Dispatch earlier about how Bryant was the one among their foursome of besties who taught the girls to believe in themselves, and to be proud of who they are.
"Ma'Khia taught us how to be confident, how to love our bodies," she said.
And then when she spoke to the crowd of supporters who stood staring at her, hanging on her every word and feeling the pain that seeped from her soul with every sentence, Tucker told them how her best friend had big plans.
"She wanted to become big on her own," she said.