Protesters across the US decry police brutality after Tyre Nichols’ death

Editor’s Note: This article contains graphic videos and depictions of violence.


Protesters took to the streets again over the weekend to denounce police brutality after the release of a video depicting the brutal beating by police in Memphis that led to the death of 29-year-old Tire Nichols.

Demonstrators marched in New York City, Atlanta, Boston, Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland, among other cities across the country on Saturday, holding up signs bearing his name and calling for an end to abuses of authority.

In Memphis, at a makeshift memorial near the corner where Nichols was beaten, resident Kiara Hill expressed her frustration and said the neighborhood was quiet and family-oriented.

“It’s heartbreaking to see the events unfold as they did, in this Tire Nichols situation. I have a son,” Hill told CNN. “And Tyre, out of the officers on the scene, he was the calmest.”

Nichols can can be heard screaming for his mother in video of the Jan. 7 encounter, which began with a traffic stop and goes on to show officers repeatedly beating the Black boy with batons, punching and kicking him — including a point while holding his hands. stop behind him.

He was left lying on the ground in handcuffs, and 23 minutes passed before a stretcher arrived at the scene. Nichols was later hospitalized and died three days later.

“All of these officers failed their oath of office,” Nichols’ family attorney Ben Crump told CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday. “They failed in their oath to protect and serve. Watch that video: Is anyone trying to protect and serve Tire Nichols?”

Since Nichols’ death, the backlash has been swift. The five Memphis officers involved in the beating – who were also Black – were fired and charged with murder and kidnapping in Nichols’ death. The unit they were part of was disbanded, and state legislators representing the Memphis area began planning police reform bills.

Crump said the quick firings and arrests of police officers and the release of the video should be a “blueprint” for how allegations of police brutality are handled in the future. He applauded Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis for arresting and charging the officers within 20 days.

“When you see police officers commit crimes against citizens, we want you to act as quickly as possible and show like the chief said, the community needs to see it, but we also need to see it when it’s White people police officer,” said Crump.

In this still from video released by the City of Memphis, officers from the Memphis Police Department beat Tire Nichols on a street corner.

These are the moments that led to the death of Tire Nichols

The five former Memphis police officers involved in the arrest have been charged with second-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping, among other charges, according to the Shelby County district attorney.

The officers, identified as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin and Desmond Mills Jr., are expected to be arraigned on February 17.

The attorney for one of the officers charged, Mills Jr., released a statement Friday night saying he did not cross lines “crossed by others” during the confrontation.

All five officers were members of the now-scrapped SCORPION unit, said Memphis police spokesman Maj. Karen Rudolph on CNN on Saturday. The unit, which was launched in 2021, places officers in areas where police monitor an increase in violent crime.

Memphis police announced Saturday that it was disbanding the unit, saying it would be “in everyone’s best interest to permanently deactivate the SCORPION Unit.”

But disbanding the unit without giving officers new training is “putting lipstick on a pig,” city council chairman Martavius ​​Jones told CNN on Saturday.

Member of the city council Patrice Robinson also told CNN that disbanding the unit does not go far enough in addressing issues within the agency.

“We have to fight bad players in our community, and now we have to fight our own police. That’s unfortunate,” Robinson said. “We have to do something.”

Atlanta police officers watch as protesters march in a rally against the deadly attack by Memphis police on Tire Nichols, in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 28, 2023.

The fallout from the deadly encounter also extended to other agencies involved.

Two Memphis Fire Department employees who were part of Nichols’ primary care have been suspended, pending the outcome of an internal investigation. And two deputies with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office have been placed on leave pending an investigation.

A pair of Democratic state lawmakers said Saturday they intend to file police reform legislation before the Tennessee General Assembly’s Tuesday filing deadline.

The bills aim to address mental health care for law enforcement officers, hiring, training, disciplinary practices and other topics, said Rep. GA Hardaway, representing a portion of Memphis and Shelby County.

Rep. Joe Towns Jr., who also represents part of Memphis, said the legislation could pass the state house in April or May.

While Democrats hold the minority with 24 representatives compared to the Republican majority of 99 representatives, Towns said this legislation is nonpartisan and should pass both sides of the legislature.

“You’re going to have a hard time looking at this footage (of Tire Nichols) and seeing what happened to that kid, OK, and you don’t want to do something. If a dog in this county was beaten like that, what would happen? ” Towns said.

John Miller bodycams orig thumb

‘Nothing OK here’: Former NYPD officer reacts to Memphis footage

The moment she saw her son, badly injured and swollen in his hospital bed, Nichols’ mother said she knew he wouldn’t make it.

“When I saw that, I knew my son was gone, the end,” RowVaughn Wells told CNN.

In tears, the mother said the officers charged in her son’s death “brought shame to their own families. They brought shame to the Black community.”

“My baby is gone. I won’t have my baby anymore,” she said. But she takes comfort in knowing her son is a good person, she said.

The 29-year-old is a father and son to his family, the youngest of four children. He was a “good kid” who spent his Sunday doing laundry and getting ready for the week, his mother said.

Nichols loves being a father to his 4-year-old son, his family said.

“All he’s trying to do is better himself as a father to his 4-year-old son,” Crump said at the family’s news conference.

“He always said that he would be famous one day. I didn’t know he meant it,” Wells said Friday.

A verified GoFundMe campaign started in memory of Tire Nichols had raised more than $936,000 as of early Sunday morning. The online fundraiser was created by Nichols’ mother and read in part: “My baby is just trying to get home to be safe in my arms. Tire was unarmed, non-threatening, and courteous to the police throughout the encounter!”


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