Lessons on de-escalation and resolving conflict need to be learned, faith leaders say

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Faith leaders across the city are sharing a message with their community after the death of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant.

We caught up with Bishop Timothy Clarke and Howard Rayford. Both say we as a community have to come together in sadness, but also in learning.

Tragic. That’s how Bishop Clarke sees the death of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant.

“Sometimes you have to lean into the hurt. You have to let or allow yourself to hurt, and then you have to learn from that hurt,” Clarke explained. “I think so many times we don’t do either of those.”

Police body camera video shows the teen was shot after wielding a knife during a fight. Bishop Clarke and Bishop Harold Rayford are calling on the community to be engaged, and to learn from this.

“In many ways we have failed our children. We must reclaim our community. We must rediscover the village,” Clarke said.

Hayford added, “When you see a 16-year-old or 16 year olds that are feeling so frustrated and so angry and feeling that way — that’s a reflection on our society. That’s a reflection of not just her world, but our world, and I want us to pray for our world.”

De-escalation, resolving conflict: That’s what both Bishops want to see happen.

“This is a situation where I can’t imagine, you know, being a police officer and getting out of the car and seeing all of this going on and making a split-second decision — of course we wish he would have used a taser, or we wish he would have intervened another way,” said Rayford.

Clarke says he prays for Columbus, and everyone involved in this tragedy: the family, the community, and the officer as well.

“It’s sometimes being angry and at the same time having human empathy, sympathy that allows you to see the other that is no denigrating or disrespectful,” he said.

An independent investigation into the shooting is happening now by BCI. There have been peaceful demonstrations across the city since the shooting Tuesday, and more are planned for the rest of the week.

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