U.S. Police are cautioning against violence similar to "Summer of love" 2020 protests in wake of 'brutal' video's release.
Edward Bunch III January 28, 2023
Following the assault and eventual passing of 29 year-old Tyre Nichols on January 10, in Memphis, Tennessee police stations across America are facing angst again, in protests which reminds us all of the Summer of 2020.
Five former Memphis police officers, Taddarius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Miles Jr., and Justin Smith, were removed from their positions following the examination of the incident’s body camera footage.
In the nearly 20-minute-long video, which shows Nichols being involved in a traffic stop, the officers are seen yelling, tasing, and beating him. Some hold him up for their colleagues to punch, while others act solely to keep him restrained.
“I expect you to feel what the Nichols family feels...outrage”, said Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis, “Our police officers have taken an oath to do the opposite of what transpired in the video”.
While these horrible events were taking place, the five former officers repeatedly shouted “give me your hands” and “stop resisting” at Nichols, pinning him on the ground.
In the footage, the victim is heard screaming in agony and explicitly stating his confusion about how he is resisting the officers’ orders.
Successively, Nichols manages to escape the officers’ grasp, abandoning his vehicle and running off toward his home, located about 90 yards away. However, it is just a matter of time before the officers capture him again, pepper spraying him and shouting conflicting orders.
This inhumane scene continues, showing the desperate victim crying out “Mom! Mom!”, attempting to comply with orders in an effort for his mother to save him from the brutality of the officers who keep beating him. At this point, Nichols can be seen with obvious bruising along his face and neck. He appears to be barely conscious, unable to verbally respond coherently and audibly blubbering.
Eventually, he will be taken to the hospital where, three days later, he will pass away due to the injuries.
Shockingly, contradicting Nichols’ stepfather Rodney Wells, who alleges that the victim suffered from a cardiac arrest and kidney failure, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has not yet confirmed what injuries Nichols “succumbed to”. While the official cause of death has yet to be released, several officials of varying levels have weighed in with contempt for the officers’ actions.
Despite the revelations of what happened that night, Nichols’ family asks for all protestors to remain peaceful. “We shouldn’t have [violence]”, Wells argued, “We need to do this peacefully, the family is very pleased with the process with the police Chief and the District Attorney, they acted very very quickly in this case, we are very very pleased with that”.
Remembering the victim, his family described Tyre as a “beautiful soul with a creative eye” who was a skateboarder and an aspiring photographer. He leaves behind a four-year-old son.
“I just wanna ask for prayer for my family”, said RowVaughn Wells, Nichols’ mother, “This just shouldn’t have happened, we want justice for my son”.
From Washington, Vice President Kamala Harris, alongside President Joe Biden and other Democrat officials, released a public statement on the incident, calling for accountability across the board.
“The persistent issue of police misconduct and use of excessive force must end now”, the statement reads, “To truly honor Tyre Nichols’ memory, and the memory of so many others before him, we must demand that our justice system lives up to its name”.
Additionally, Biden spoke personally with the Nichols family on the day of the footage’s release, expressing condolences and a promise to get justice for Tyre.
In a public statement, the American president urged against violence and declared his commitment to accountability: “Today, we must all re-commit ourselves to the critical work that must be done to advance meaningful reforms”.
Understanding the reach of the events that occurred in Memphis, across the United States many are urging against violent demonstrations in wake of the body camera footage release. In this regard, Police Chief Davis claimed: “None of this is a calling card for inciting violence or destruction on our community or against our citizens”.
On the night of January 27, protests broke out in several US cities in response to the video release. Demonstrations in New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Memphis have all been met with police opposition, reminding the world of the riots connected to George Floyd back in 2020.
Each of the five officers involved in the incident was charged with second-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, aggravated assault, and official oppression according to Shelby County DA Steve Mulroy. As of the time of writing, four of the officers involved have posted bail.
Black Americans are once again faced with a nationally acclaimed case of police brutality in which they are told their feelings are heard while expected to remain peaceful and deferential to the organization responsible.
Nichols’ story will forever live in the minds of those outraged by his passing, remaining a case study of hate and intolerance in the centuries-long fight against racism.
Police institutions across America have continually been provided financial and emotional support following tragedies like Nichols, to create training and prevent repeated occurrences.
However, as we have seen with the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, a social crisis like these can not be solved through funding and training, especially in the United States.
If the roots of the issues between the Black community and US police (law enforcement’s original designation in the States being slave catchers) are never addressed, likely, we will never see the extirpation of racism on either a systemic or personal level.
Tragedies like this may only continue until both sides truly come to the table to resolve it.
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