US police shoot and kill 13-year-old boy

Nyah Mway was harassed, chased down, assaulted, then executed by police in Utica, New York, igniting spontaneous protest

July 02, 2024 by Peoples Dispatch
Nyah May, 13, was killed by police on June 28

Protests have erupted days after police in Utica, New York chased and gunned down 13-year-old Nyah Mway on Friday night. Videos of the tragic killing have circulated on social media, clearly depicting police chasing Mway before throwing him to the ground and shooting him, to the horror of bystanders. 

Police are now attempting to justify the shooting with claims that Mway pointed a replica gun at a police officer before he was killed, and that police approached Mway in the first place based on nearby robbery investigations involving “two Asian males.” 

Local organizers, however, paint a picture of unchecked brutality by Utica police. “The Utica Police Department’s ‘Crime Prevention Unit’ harassed, chased down, assaulted and then executed 13-year-old Nyah Mway, a member of the Karen refugee community,” write New York state organizers with the Party for Socialism and Liberation. “Nyah and a friend were stopped and encircled by three police officers with flashlights. Nyah ran in fear and the police proceeded to tackle, punch, shoot, and kill him.”

“UPD released body cam footage on June 29th. The footage appears to show that Nyah had a pellet gun on him while being chased, but the pellet gun was not in his possession when he was pinned down and shot by the police,” the statement continued. 

Mway was a member of the refugee community in Utica, a city which for many decades has attracted immigrants from war-torn countries. According to The Center, a nonprofit dedicated to helping refugees and immigrants in the Mohawk Valley region, almost 20% of Utica’s population was born outside of the US.  

The killing of Mway has ignited debate about the violence that refugees and other marginalized populations face at the hands of police. Protests have also been organized in the streets of Utica, with community members lamenting the death of the young child. “This could have been any one of our kids,” said Shannon, a woman attending a vigil for Mway.

Mway’s tragic death evokes the memory of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a Black child killed by Cleveland, Ohio police officer Timothy Loehmann in 2014. Rice was shot dead while playing with a toy gun, with Loehmann claiming that it appeared that 12-year-old Rice was about to draw a weapon on him. Yesterday, it was confirmed that Loehmann had been hired at a small police department in West Virginia. Later on the same day, Loehmann resigned following mass public outrage.