By Mylika Scatliffe
AFRO Women’s Health Writer
Elected officials and community leaders are joining citizens around the country in mourning the brutal death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of police.
The 29-year-old Memphis, Tenn. man succumbed to injuries three days after a violent Jan. 7 attack by multiple officers at the same time. Body camera footage of the brutal assault was released on Jan. 27 triggering widespread, but mostly non-violent demonstrations.
Protesters stopped the flow of traffic on I-55 in Memphis, in a non-violent demonstration.
President Joe Biden, who has been in contact with Nichols’ parents, released a statement after the video was publicly disclosed.
“Like so many, I was out-raged and deeply pained to see the horrific video of the beating that resulted in Tyre Nichols’ death. It is yet another painful reminder of the profound fear and trauma, the pain, and the exhaustion that Black and Brown Americans experience every single day,” said Biden.
“My heart goes out to Tyre Nichols’ family and to Americans in Memphis and across the country who are grieving this tremendously painful loss.”
Biden said he was aware the footage “will leave people justifiably outraged. Those who seek justice should not resort to violence or destruction. Violence is never acceptable; it is illegal and destructive.”
The president said the family wants “peaceful protest, adding that “Mr. and Mrs. Wells, Mr. Nichols’ son, deserve a swift, full, and transparent investigation.
“We must do everything in our power to ensure our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment, and dignity for all,” he continued. “Real and lasting change will only come if we take action to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again.”
The president implored Congress to get the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to him so he could sign it into law.
“When Senate Republicans blocked that bill, I signed an executive order that mandated stricter use of force standards and accountability provisions for federal law enforcement, as well as measures to strengthen accountability at the state and local level,” he said, in the statement.
Baltimore’s elected officials, community leaders and law enforcement officials issued a joint statement in reaction to the footage saying they “stand against all forms of police misconduct and violence in our communities. Together we can do better. We must do better. We will do better.”
The statement issued by the city of Baltimore, the Office of the State’s Attorney, the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, and the Baltimore Police Department said: “The death of Tyre Nichols is a stark reminder of the brutality Black people continue to face daily in this country and how much work remains for us to value Black American lives.
“Our hearts go out to his family and loved ones as they mourn the loss of their son and demand justice for his untimely death. His family should not have to endure the heartache of losing a loved one at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve their community,” read the statement. “We want to applaud the swift action taken by the Shelby County District Attorney to charge all five officers who participated in the killing of Mr. Nichols. Justice demands accountability for this vile act and accountability for all instances of police misconduct across the county.”
The footage released is compiled from the officers’ body cams and street surveillance cameras. The tape was shown on television and cable networks with repeated warnings about the graphic nature of the videos and strong recommendations that children not be allowed to watch.
Nichols, who was driving immediately prior to the attack, was stopped by the officers for reasons that remain unclear. The videos show Nichols’ car blocked in by unmarked police cars. Almost immediately after coming into contact with the officers, profanity and threats to Nichols are heard from the police officers.
Nichols was pulled from his vehicle, violently thrown to the ground, threatened with tasers and worse. Nichols can be heard asking what he did. Apparently confused by such vitriolic actions from the officers, he attempted to de-escalate the situation.
Nichols’ initial reaction to the escalating conflict included a remark, “Y’all are really doing a lot right now.”
Multiple officers can be seen physically restraining Nichols, while also screaming commands at him.
The videos show that he ran from the officers after his initial encounter with them, fleeing into the neighborhood where his mother lived.
The silent footage from the street surveillance camera shows approximately four minutes of the officers punching, kicking, and beating an unarmed Nichols in the torso and stomach with a collapsible baton, with little to no resistance from him at all.
Nichols can be heard screaming out for his mother at points during, who by this time was less than 100 yards away, unaware her son was under attack.
They would later stand around Nichols as he lay on the ground, casually discussing the incident while rendering no medical aid to the severely injured man as he lapsed in and out of consciousness. With their victim just feet away, officers gloat about deploying tasers, hunting Nichols down through the neighborhood and forcefully punching him as they beat him to death.
The five officers involved in the attack have been fired and charged with second degree murder, aggravated assault, and kidnapping.
Many on social media wondered why only five officers were charged, when more are seen on the tape. An additional two sheriff ’s deputies have also been placed on leave pending an internal investigation of their conduct during the violent traffic stop.
“Once again, we are forced to watch another horrific video of cops using brutal force to kill a Black man. Nearly three years after the murder of George Floyd shook the world, here we are,” said Rev. Al Sharpton, in a statement from his National Action Network. “This video should be all a jury needs to convict each of the five officers who relentlessly beat Tyre Nichols to death. Justice needs to be delivered for Tyre and his family. I don’t think anyone who could stomach getting through this footage would disagree.”
While protesting in public can bring attention to a cause, leaders have been careful to encourage peaceful demonstrations.
“Those who go out to protest tonight must respect the family’s wishes to remain non-violent,” said Sharpton. “We are all outraged, but anyone who turns violent only helps the defendants. The more you act up, the more these cops will only use it as an excuse for their despicable actions.
This post originally ran in The AFRO