The shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott last week hit hard in Charlotte, NC. But someone who's feeling particular distress over it is young Zianna Oliphant, who spoke at a Charlotte City Council meeting Monday evening, addressing a hushed room with tears streaming down her cheeks as she spoke of the black experience and police brutality, New York reports. "I come here today to talk about how I feel," Zianna started off. "I feel like … we are treated differently than other people. … We are black people and we shouldn't have to feel like this." What especially drew the crowd's attention, in addition to Zianna's words and how emotional she was: the fact that she's a 9-year-old fourth-grader who spontaneously took the podium, per NBC News. "I decided to just go up there and tell them how I feel," she says.
"I've been born and raised in Charlotte and I never felt this way till now," she said, breaking down. "And I can't stand how we're treated. … It's a shame that our fathers and mothers are killed and we can't even see them anymore. … We need our fathers and mothers to be by our side." Her mom, Precious Oliphant, tells NBC both Zianna and her brother, who also spoke at the meeting, are involved in a police youth league with cops who serve as "role models," showing them the ropes of "responsibility, dedication, and commitment." But Oliphant adds she's been pulled over by police for what she thinks were trivial things, and she doesn't want her kids to have that same experience, or to face danger. As for Zianna, she's not afraid to forge her own path for the future. "I'm not shy to tell them how I feel about it," she says.