Protests Across US After Footage Released of Tyre Nichols’ Murder by Police

January 28, 2023

New York City, photo: PSL

On Friday, January 27, authorities in Memphis, Tennessee, released several recordings showing the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black US citizen who died three days after several officers beat him over a traffic infraction on January 7.

The five now former police officers who were involved in Nichols’ arrest have been charged with second-degree murder. Currently, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith, all of whom are also Black US citizens, are in custody. The five former officers also face charges including aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.

In one of the videos, Nichols is seen on the ground with his hands tied while being hit multiple times in the head by the officers standing over him. In the chaotic footage, officers can be seen kicking Nichols as he lies on the asphalt.

Nichols was also restrained and brutally beaten, always on the head, while he was still standing. On top of that the officers pepper-sprayed and used tasers on him during his arrest.

Steve Mulroy, the district attorney, indicated that although each defendant played a different role in the violent arrest, all of their actions led to Nichols’ hospitalization and subsequent death.

After the release of the disturbing footage that reveals the violence suffered by Nichols at the hands of the police, US authorities fear that the country will once again be plunged into a new wave of demonstrations against police brutality. Citizens on social media platforms have condemned algorithm manipulation set in motion to “cool down” outrage over another human rights violation by police forces and, thus, reduce protest action.

“In a word, it’s absolutely appalling,” said David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, in reference to the arrest video. Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis confessed that she was not prepared for what she saw. “In my 36 years in law enforcement, I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed the contempt for a human being displayed in this video,” Davis said, seemingly forgetting that these types of images of police violence are widespread in the United States.

For his part, US President Joe Biden sent his condolences to Nichols’ family and urged the public to avoid riots in response to the murder. Meanwhile, a state of emergency was declared in Georgia after large protests last week in response to the murder of Manuel Esteban ‘Tortuguita’ Paez Terán, a 26-year-old environmental activist who was shot by police while protesting the building of a police complex known as Cop City.

Protests across the US

Once the videos were released, US streets filled with protesters who did not hesitate to show their condemnation of police violence. The crowds were concentrated mainly in the big cities, holding banners and demanding accountability for the deaths of people in the hands of those whose duty it is to protect the citizenry.

“End police terror” is one of the slogans seen on signs held by the protesters who gathered on Friday night in Memphis, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Seattle. When a crowd began to gather in New York, the city’s mayor, Eric Adams, called for calm. “If you need to express your anger and outrage, do so peacefully,” he requested, without acknowledging the systemic violence exercised by police forces daily across the United States, violating the most basic human rights.

Source: Alba Ciudad, translation Orinoco Tribune