On the night of 1/7/23, Tyre Nichols, 29, a FedEx employee, was stopped by the police in Hickory Hill, a mostly Black neighborhood in Memphis, Tennessee, the reported motive being reckless driving.
Mr Nichols was brutally beaten and died three days later at a hospital.
Yesterday, the authorities released the video they put together, a composite from body cameras worn by officers and from another camera affixed to a nearby light pole.
From the very start, the officer going up to Mr Nichols to pull him out of his vehicle shows a disregard for decency, his manner being overly aggressive.
Mr Nichols is pushed to the ground and the beating starts.
I heard Mr Nichols’ voice pleading, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong,’ to which there was no verbal reply from the officers – five in total – just more beatings instead.
I tried to imagine myself in the victim’s place and thought I would’ve lain very still in the hope the beatings stopped. But it wasn’t me getting punched repeatedly. It wasn’t me in despair and fearing I’d be killed.
Then Mr Nichols gets up and starts running off. The officers jump in their patrol cars and catch him a distance away. Then the beating intensifies.
I thought he shouldn’t have run but stayed put.
But it wasn’t me getting punched again and again.
I wanted to scream STOP! PLEASE! TALK TO THE MAN! LISTEN!
Turns out Mr Nichols had been running in the direction of his mother’s home who lives nearby. He wanted her help. At one point, as he lay on the ground, he calls out to her, ‘Mom?’.
But that didn’t end the punching.
What were they doing? Who were they hitting? Whose approval were they looking for?
The senselessness of their brutality made me wonder, what demons possessed the officers that they needed to punch out the life of a defenseless man, a fellow Black man. Guilty of what?
Running a light? Reckless driving?
No thought was given to how disproportionate their response was.
It was more important to beat the life out of a man that let him run away. There was no thought given to the effects of the harm they were doing. Were they angry at themselves? Who were they trying to impress?
And the beatings went on.
And then, at the end, as Mr Nichols lay still on the ground, his head propped up against the wheel of the patrol car, one of the officers steps front, facing a camera. He seemed satisfied with himself. As if saying, ‘we’ve done our job, we did what he had to do. We got him.’
The officer didn’t know yet that the 5 of them had succeeded in killing Mr Nichols.
Over what? I don’t think he even knew by then. But Mr Nichols died 3 days later.
The 5 officers have been dismissed from their jobs and charged with 2nd degree murder.
But what about their superiors, what are they being charged with?
Because the higher ups failed these officers. These are not just bad apples that we can just toss out. These men’s behavior are expression of a culture of abuse and disregard for human life, even of self hatred, because you don’t go on hitting and hitting another human being if you give a damn about yourself.
If the officers were out on patrol then their superiors who allowed it didn’t bother to check if they were fit to be responsible police officers or just didn’t care.
So the higher ups need to resign too, and charged accordingly.
What’s happened to the spirit of George Floyd, is he now just a memory?
Wasn’t his story going to reverberate through every police department in the nation to not let an absurdity like this senseless killing happen again?
Sadly, the deaths keep mounting.
Would adding members of the community to police patrols make a difference? Lay people who would act as a conscience for the officers? Who knows. But we have to try something.
We’re bleeding here. And not just in Memphis.
Mr Nichols’ mother has called for the community to not protest her son’s killing with violence, for that was not what her son stood for. Thank you for those word, dear lady. And my sympathy to you in your grief.
Yesterday, another violent video was released by the courts. On October 28th 2022, Paul Pelosi, Nancy Pelosi’s husband, was assaulted in his home in San Francisco by a man who had broken into it in the middle of the night. Mr Pelosi, in his 80s, is heard calling for help in a 911 call and then, as the police arrives, trying to keep the intruder from hitting him with a hammer.
The video captures the scene when the intruder launches into his attack of Mr Pelosi who suffered a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm as a result.
The intruder in now in custody.
The man had forced his way into the residence looking for Nancy Pelosi, then speaker of the House of Representatives and a leading democrat, but she was not there.
The attack on Mr Pelosi could’ve been deadly.
Immediately after the assault was made public, leading politicians from the Right and Left, including Mitch McConnell, Minority leader in the Senate, denounced it.
Mr Trump was interviewed a day or two afterwards but could not find the moral strength to add his voice to the outrage.
Instead, as I remember, he said the assailant was likely invited into the home by Mr Pelosi.
Since then, Mr Trump has announced his intention to run for president a third time.
To date, in spite his behavior, including the inciting of the Capitol Hill riot on January 6th 2021, he still commands allegiance from both Senators and Representatives in the Republican party.
Something is wrong.