Tennessee’s MEMPHIS – Vice President Kamala Harris, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and Tyre Nichols’ family and friends attended his burial on Wednesday. Thousands were anticipated to attend in response to the horrific police assault of the 29-year-old father and enthusiastic skateboarder.
RowVaughn Wells, the boy’s mother, commended neighborhood activists for their assistance as well as the family’s attorneys and the police for their prompt action. Nichols’ stepfather, Rodney Wells, stated that the family would fight for justice for not only his stepson but also for other people who have died while being held by the police.
Tyre was a lovely person, and it was almost unfathomable what had happened to him, said RowVaughn Wells.
During the funeral, Harris made a brief acknowledgment to the Nichols family. She referred to his passing as a “violent act” that “was not in the interest of keeping the public safe” because it occurred three days after he had been pummeled by Memphis police officers who have now been fired and charged with second-degree murder.
“Had he not a claim to the right to safety as well?” Speaking at the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, Harris remarked.
The 70-member choir sang “Strength Like No Other” to start the service, which was delayed due to bad weather and traffic, on Wednesday. The senior pastor of the church, the Rev. J. Lawrence Turner, then spoke, praising Nichols as “a good person, a beautiful soul, a son, a father, a brother, a friend, and a human being.”
We arrived with heavy hearts that can only be lightened by the grace of God, complete accountability, and thorough legislative reform, according to Turner.
According to body-worn and utility pole camera footage released by the Memphis Police Department, Nichols was pummeled for three minutes during a traffic stop and foot pursuit on January 7. Mourners were invited to read Nichols’ obituary during a photo slideshow that featured images of Nichols. The video depicts the cops kicking, punching, and pepper spraying Nichols while he was being held, as well as hitting him with a baton and stun gun.
Nichols was hospitalized after the beating critical condition and passed away three days later. According to an autopsy ordered by his family, he experienced “extensive bleeding caused by a brutal beating.”
Before inviting Harris to speak, Sharpton, the founder, and leader of the civil rights organization National Action Network acknowledged the attendance of Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor, and Philonise Floyd, the sister of George Floyd.
They have experience attending funerals like this, Sharpton said.
As Nichols’ mother sobbed and cheered, Harris urged Congress to enact the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. In the Senate, that legislation was rejected in 2021.
Harris told the Nichols family, “You have been amazing in your strength, courage, and grace. We mourn with you, and the people of our country mourn with you.
At the family Nichols request, Sharpton gave the eulogy. In part, because the officers involved in his killing are Black, Sharpton claimed that Nichols’ tragedy is personal to him. The five cops were held on bond ranging from $250,000 to $350,000 after being charged with second-degree murder and other offenses.
“How dare you act like that sacrifice was for nothing when people had to march, go to jail, and even lose their lives to open the doors for you?” said Sharpton.
After that, Nichols’ siblings and parents were allowed to express their memories of him, and Sharpton invited family lawyer Ben Crump to make a call to action.
Keyana Dixon expressed her “total heartbreak” over her brother’s passing.
“My brother was robbed of his life, his interests, and his abilities on the night of January 7 but not of his light,” Dixon added. “I see the world fighting for his justice and showing him love, but all I want is my baby brother back,” the speaker said.
No matter the ethnicity of the police officer implicated in the alleged police brutality, Crump added, the prompt firing of and charges against the cops should be the model. According to Crump, Nichols’ legacy “will be one of equal justice.”
The death of Nichols has triggered largely peaceful rallies around the nation, rekindled arguments about federal legislation to reform policing, and conversations about whether systemic change is even possible.
Three personnel of the Memphis Fire Department were also let go for failing to give Nichols sufficient medical care once they arrived on the scene. The removal of two further cops from their positions was revealed by the authorities on Monday.
In the murder prosecution of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty and given a 2212-year jail term for the killing of George Floyd, the duty of officers to provide medical care played a significant role.
The Memphis Police Department permanently dissolved the specialized street unit, known as SCORPION, to which the officers belonged, and federal authorities have launched a civil rights inquiry.
The Congressional Black Caucus, who want to meet with the president to urge changes in policing, invited Nichols’ parents to attend President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech next week.
How did Tyre Nichols fare?
On January 7, Memphis police officers stopped Nichols, 29, for allegedly driving recklessly. The initial police report just mentioned that there had been an “encounter,” that Nichols had escaped on foot, and that there had later been another confrontation. According to the complaint, Nichols then complained of having trouble breathing.
That night, Nichols was admitted to the hospital in critical condition. After suffering “significant bleeding caused by a severe beating,” he passed away three days later, according to an autopsy ordered by his family. A civil rights inquiry was started by federal officials on January 18. On January 20, the cops were fired and put on trial for murder and other offenses.
The Memphis police chief and county prosecutors were praised for their prompt action by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who called their actions “a roadmap going forward.”