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The Killing of Tyre Nichols Sparks Protests

Written by: Vaishnavi Peyyety, Red & Black Current Events

Man protest the unjust death of Tyre Nichols. (Photo Courtesy BBC News)

Imagine you are driving on a motorcycle and pulled over for “reckless driving.” As a Black man who is repeatedly profiled by the police, you start to believe the worst. Will the cops arrest me? Will I be threatened and attacked? What will happen to my family? Unfortunately, this was the reality of Tyre Nichols, a father, photographer, and skateboarding enthusiast from Sacramento, California. On Jan. 7, Nichols was pulled over for supposedly “driving recklessly.” When trying to run away, Nichols was attacked by the police, as seen in the publicly released body camera footage. He died in the hospital three days later.
Nichols moved to Memphis, Tennessee, and worked for FedEx for nine months before his passing. At his memorial service, his grandmother shared that Nichols “was one of those people who made everyone around them happy.” A truly endearing and caring parent, Nichols suffered a fate he did not deserve.

" At his memorial service, his grandmother shared that Nichols 'was one of those people who made everyone around them happy.' A truly endearing and caring parent, Nichols suffered a fate he did not deserve."
When initially confronted at a traffic stop, Nichols fled, leading the police to chase him to another traffic stop where he was confronted and taken into custody. He was moved to the hospital in critical condition, as he experienced shortness of breath after being physically attacked by police to the point where his face was unrecognizable. Following public outcry, the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office released the video of Nichols’ death. In the jarring four-part footage, Nichols was dragged from his car and struck with profanities by multiple officers. After an officer attempted to taser Nichols, he tried to run and stated “I’m just trying to go home.” Within 100 yards of the family’s home, the officers attack him continuously, kicking, punching, and striking Nichols with a baton as he grimaces in pain on the ground. Nichols yelled “Mom” as the officers beat him to death. The family attorney Ben Crump drew a comparison between this footage and that of Rodney King in Los Angeles, California. King was an African American
Protesters taking a stand in response of Tyre Nichols death. (Photo Courtesy Marketwatch)
Following this horrible event, many around the country took to the streets to peacefully protest. Protests took place in New York City, Washington D.C., Seattle, Detroit, and Atlanta. Highways and intersections were shut down in major cities where protestors marched. Demonstrators chanted against police brutality. A group of individuals gathered at a park in downtown Memphis and began protesting down the I-55 bridge between Memphis and West Memphis. This busy bridge was shut down for almost three hours. In social media footage, people are heard chanting “no justice, no peace” and “justice for Tyre.” Some gathered in churches and small groups to pray and mourn this devastating loss. In downtown Los Angeles, a group of protestors brought awareness to the effects of police brutality and inequality. In response, the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters was blocked by law enforcement in riot gear.
As of now, five Memphis ex-police were charged with several offenses including murder and they were jailed. Additionally, two Memphis Fire Department employees were “relieved of duty” in connection with Nichols’ death. Unfortunately, this is one of many instances of police brutality. Even after the wave of Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, many African Americans live even close to the amount of media coverage as did George Floyd. The names of Daunte Wright, Andre Hill, Manuel Ellis, Rayshard Brooks, Daniel Prude, Breonna Taylor, and many others should also be known. Tyre Nichol’s death is tragic, and heartbreaking and resurfaces the debate of whether public support for BLM has waned since 2020.
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