Tennessee’s MEMPHIS — The day before Tyre Nichols’ funeral, the Rev. Al Sharpton referred to Martin Luther King Jr., who gave his famed “Mountaintop” speech at the venerable Mason Temple pulpit the evening before he was assassinated. Tyre Nichols was a father, skateboarder, and photographer who had his mother’s name tattooed on his arm.
Sharpton has stated that he is privileged to be paying tribute to Nichols, a 29-year-old who passed away on January 10—three days after being severely beaten by Memphis police officers in an event that was caught on camera. Thousands will attend Nichols’ burial on Wednesday at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, including prominent attendees like Vice President Kamala Harris.
Inspire by King’s final words before being assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, Sharpton declared during a press conference on Tuesday night, “We will continue in Tyre’s name to head up to Martin’s Mountaintop.”
“We wanted to begin on this holy land because of this. This area is sacred “Sharpton and Nichols’ parents both spoke. And this family is now ours; they are in the hands of history and those who would fight for them.
Nearly a week after Nichols passed away, on Martin Luther King Day, his family gathered outside of what is now the National Civil Rights Museum to continue the first weekend of demands for justice.
On protest posters, a picture of Nichols in the hospital with a bloated face and an “S”-shaped nose was displayed. The protest slogan “I am a man,” made famous by the striking Memphis sanitation workers King had gone to Memphis to support, was scrawled on top of the picture.
That day, the crowd remarked, “Tyre was a guy.”
The same protest banners showing Nichols in the hospital lined the church stage, which was being held by local Memphis activists, as Sharpton, religious leaders, activists, and Nichols’ family spoke Tuesday night.
Bishops Brandon Porter and Talbert Swan II of the Church of God in Christ joined Sharpton on Tuesday night. Along with his siblings, Rodney and RowVaughn Wells, Nichols’ parents, also attended.
Porter, whose father first welcomed King to the church more than 50 years ago, said, “The demand for justice has brought us here again.”
All of the speakers kept for comprehensive police reform.
Swan stated, “We’ve got to sing from the same song sheet across this country so that these types of incidents don’t have us standing here time and time again.”
Swan urged for more than just a diverse police force, saying “since we are aware of the structural and systemic nature of racism. And if you don’t reform the framework, it still disenfranchises and brutalizes Black bodies, regardless of the ethnicity of the police officer.”
Five of the officers accused of killing Nichols are Black.
Amber Sherman, a Memphis activist, presented the group’s list of demands, which includes concrete steps including ending justification stops and calling for greater information to be made publicly available about police behaviour, as well as disbanding the police force’s specialized groups. Officers of the SCORPION saturation patrol unit, which has since been deactivated and is the subject of an investigation, beat Nichols.
Back to the activists, Nichols’ older brother Jamal Dupree stated, “You guys are the truth, I appreciate you guys. “You people have truly caused me to reconsider Memphis. Because this city had a black cloud over it when I arrived for the first time.”
Family members of Stephon Clark, who was killed by Sacramento, California, police in 2018, and Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold by New York Police in 2014, were also present, according to Sharpton.
The message from Nichols’ stepfather, whom he referred to as a father, was “kind and brief.”
“Continue to fight for justice for my family and our son. My wife needs to be protected because she is currently quite weak. Believe me, she needs it for us. And I also require it “said Rodney Wells. “This will be brief tonight because we have a tough battle ahead of us. We must remain resilient to face it.”
Date and hour of Tyre Nichols’ burial
The funeral for Nichols is scheduled for Wednesday at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis at 10:30 a.m. CST. He passed away on January 10, three days after being critically injured and being taken to St. Francis Hospital following a beating by Memphis Police Department officers.
Numerous thousands are anticipated
The senior pastor of the church, the Rev. J. Lawrence Turner, stated that he has been arranging with his congregation and others close to the family and anticipates the ceremony to be “at capacity.”
Turner predicted that there will be more than 2,500 people there. “To accommodate everyone who is coming to celebrate Tyre Nichols’ life, our staff and a dedicated group of volunteers are collaborating with the team from the Crump (law) firm and the National Action Network.”
Although security will be present at the event, Turner said he anticipates “everyone to have a safe experience.”
The attendance of prominent officials, he added, may not elicit a loud response, but he thinks it would demonstrate a spirit of unity and help draw attention to what happened.
Tyre Nichols’ death has sparked “a great sense of loss and fury,” Turner said, adding that he is personally hurting as a Black man with a Black kid.
On suspicion of second-degree murder, five of the cops involved in Nichols’ killing have been charged. Two more officers had their jobs removed. Additionally, three Memphis Fire Department employees were let go on Monday for failing to give Nichols the proper medical care.
We are experiencing a Good Friday moment, says a preacher in Memphis
Turner used the terms “inhuman, terrible, vicious, diabolical” in his Sunday sermon to characterize the video showing Nichols being punched, kicked, pepper-sprayed, and hit with a baton. The video was made public on Friday night.
On Monday, Turner remarked, “We’re living in a Good Friday moment. “However, resurrection is always a possibility, and that is what I think must happen from this point forward. Tyre’s death must be allowed to go in vain. In addition to seeking justice for him and his family, we must take the necessary steps to ensure that such incidents never occur again.”