Cop killing of teen shows how child welfare, police derail Black lives

Recently, the nation witnessed the destruction that follows a breakdown in collaboration between child welfare and policing. Within minutes of the guilty verdict of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, Ma’Khia Bryant, a child in foster care, was shot and killed by a police officer.

While some questions have been answered, others still, justifiably (urgently), abound: Why did the officer see a Black teenage girl in rainbow Crocs as such a threat that he shot her repeatedly with no attempt at de-escalation? And where were the resources to keep Ma’Khia and her sister safely with relatives to avoid the wrenching separation from their family?

After Ma’Khia’s death, her sister was sent to live with a relative. Now, Ma’Khia’s mother, grandmother and aunt are in mourning instead of celebrating that Ma’Khia and her sister were coming home soon from foster care.

As we focus on police and criminal justice reform, we must also intensely scrutinize the child welfare system’s racist practices for families like Ma’Khia’s. Child welfare and law enforcement too frequently work hand in hand, devastating the lives of kids in state care. 

Child welfare, like police, has a race problem

Historically, the child welfare system has over-surveilled, over-separated, over-reported and over-investigated Black, Latinx and Native American families, while also failing to protect their children after placing them in foster care or putting them up for adoption.

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