Even as fears of a violent public backlash to the upsetting tape faded, the graphic video of five US police officers violently assaulting a young Black man who eventually died in the hospital was met with universal dismay on Saturday.
Tyre Nichols, 29, is repeatedly kicked and punched by Memphis police as he cries out for his mother in a video that was widely aired on national television and online, inciting outrage and calls for police reform.
After peaceful protests Friday evening, only a few stores were open in downtown Memphis on Saturday morning, and others were still shuttered with their windows boarded up.
An African American businessman in Memphis named Andrew Lewis said that watching the video shattered his heart.
Lewis, who is 29 years old, stated, “You really don’t get a feel of how far somebody can beat on a man for, you know, 30-plus minutes.”
After seeing the disturbing video, Nancy Schulte, 69, who works at a hotel in the heart of Memphis, claimed she no longer had faith in the local police.
Schulte declared, “It’s just a dreadful thing. Watching five powerful men beat this man to death.
– ‘It must end –
Nichols, who died in the hospital on January 10 three days after being stopped on suspicion of driving recklessly, was beaten by five Memphis police officers, all of whom are Black. They have all been charged with second-degree murder.
The extensive video footage from police body cameras that were made public on Friday night shows several officers detaining Nichols, attempting to subdue him with a Taser, and then pursuing him as he flees.
The video continues with Nichols pleading for his mother and wailing as police brutally beat him in later scenes; the entire clip lasts roughly an hour.
The mother of Nicholas, RowVaughn Wells, told CNN on Friday, “They had beaten him to a pulp.” He was covered with bruises, and the swelling in his head and neck caused it to pop like a watermelon.
As Nichols’ passing demonstrated how little had changed since the death of Black man George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in 2020, which led to widespread, occasionally violent protests across the nation, calls for fundamental police reform in America became louder.
Sen. Joe Manchin said in a statement on Saturday that “for too long, we have witnessed these senseless acts by those sworn to protect us, and it must cease.” We must band together to take significant action to fix it because this cannot be the America we hope for.
– ‘That could have been me’ –
Some important concerns, primarily the reason why Nichols was stopped, remained unresolved even after the video’s distribution.
Benjamin Crump, the family’s attorney, argued that Nichols did not violate traffic laws or approach the officers’ firearms as the police claimed, and accused the policemen of trying to cover up their mistakes.
Crump remarked on MSNBC on Saturday morning: “That is our opinion after analyzing this film multiple times: that he was never trying to grasp for those officers’ guns.”
According to Crump, Nichols’ murder exemplifies a pattern of police impunity toward non-white Americans in America.
“This is typical of police institutions. It makes no difference if the police are white, black, or Hispanic. There are rumored unwritten laws that allow for the use of extreme force against someone if they belong to a certain ethnic group.”
African American maintenance engineer Demarcus Carter, 36, of Memphis, concurred.
As she watched the footage, Carter remarked, “It could have been me. “Like I probably would have died with them if I had been in the area,” she said.
– ‘Same old, same old –
On Friday evening, small, largely peaceful demonstrations took place in Memphis, Washington, New York City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and a few other cities.
Around 50 demonstrators gathered at the central Martyrs Park in downtown Memphis to honor the release of the video. Later, they marched while chanting “No Justice, No Peace” and “Say His Name: Tyre Nichols,” blocking a major artery.
The police officers are accused of aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping in addition to second-degree murder. US media reported that four of the five were freed from custody after posting bail.