/  06.08.2022

Last month, 13-year-old Naiara Tamminga spoke in front of a city commission board at a Grand Rapids, Michigan meeting to call out officials for the mishandling of Patrick Lyoya’s death.

As previously reported by REVOLT, 26-year-old Lyoya, a Black man, was fatally shot in the back of his head by Officer Christopher Schurr during a traffic stop on April 4. Lyoya was from the Republic of the Congo and at the time of his death, his father spoke through an interpreter saying that their family moved to America to escape violence in their country.

Although Tamminga delivered her speech on May 17, thanks to social media, more and more people are now hearing her powerful message. On Monday (June 6), Yahoo! reported that a video of the 13-year-old’s commentary was recently shared by stars like Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis. Other celebrities said to have praised the young activist are D.L. Hughley, Jesse Williams and Leslie Jones.

The Grand Rapids resident takes the podium and tells the elected officials, “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.”

Behind her is a small group of friends. Tamminga shares that her mother had to drop her off at the meeting because she’s not yet old enough to drive.

“I go to City High Middle School. Just voted the top high school. Top high school in the state,” she says. “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?” she asks.

Tamminga continues, “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’m expected to go outside and walk my 5-year-old little brother. God forbid we look too scary,” the teen says in her two-minute speech. “God forbid he accidentally is wearing his hood, and we get the police called on us.”

According to the Daily Kos, the Greater Grand Rapids NAACP has demanded a federal investigation into the policing culture at the Grand Rapids Police Department following the death of Lyoya.

Check out Tamminga’s full speech below and what people are saying about it.


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