Kay Klo has become a familiar face following the death of Nyah Mway, the 13-year-old killed June 28 by Utica police, who say he ran from officers and flashed what appeared to be a Glock after being stopped on the street. Police ended up recovering a pellet gun from the scene.

Klo is on a mission to help refugees in Utica as the executive director of the Midtown Utica Community Center, or “MUCC.”

The center is helping Mway’s family during what is an extrenely difficult time of mourning, investigations and unrest.

What You Need To Know

  •  The Midtown Utica Community Center is offering support to the family of Nyah Mway and the community

  • The center is connecting people with economic and legal resources, programming to mitigate youth trauma, mental health support and more

  • The center's executive director said the shooting, and what has unfolded after, has shown the need for accountability, justice and cultural competency at all levels

“His family described him as a playful, funny kid who likes to, like, joke around. His family has shared videos of him just being silly," said Klo.

Body camera footage released by police shows officers screaming “gun” before one tackles and punches Mway, and another officer opens fire. The teen, a refugee born in Myanmar and member of the Karen ethnic minority, had just graduated from middle school. He was shot in the chest and died at the hospital. He was recently laid to rest in Utica. 

MUCC is connecting Mways’ family and the community to economic resources, legal resources, programming to mitigate youth trauma and mental health support, among other things.

“There's a lot of layers because of the cultural language, economic barriers and we've just been doing the best that we can to piece everything together so that our community has the resources that they need to be OK again," Klo said.

Klo said there has been distrust between refugees and police, but the difference is this incident was caught on camera and gained international publicity.

Many people have criticized Mway for running from police, but Klo says it’s important to keep cultural contexts in mind.  

“Coming from a war-torn country, when you see the military or law enforcement, you run or you die. Our parents come from a war-torn country that has witnessed our villages being burned, children being shot down," Klo said.

Klo said the shooting and what has unfolded after has shown the need for accountability, justice and cultural competency at all levels.

She said the Midtown Utica Community Center appreciates support right now, and can be contacted at info@midtownutica.org.

The state attorney general’s office is investigating the shooting.