Family, friends get together; Kamala Harris speaks
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Family and friends of Tire Nichols were joined by Vice President Kamala Harris and the Reverend Al Sharpton for a funeral on Wednesday that was expected to draw thousands following the brutal beating of a 29-year-old father by the police. and avid skateboarder.
Her mother, RowVaughn Wells, thanked local activists for their support and credited the family’s lawyers and police for acting quickly. Rodney Wells, Nichols’ stepfather, said the family will fight for justice not just for his stepson but for the others who died in police custody.
“Tyre was a beautiful person, and for this to happen to him was just unimaginable,” RowVaughn Wells said.
Harris spoke briefly during the service, acknowledging Nichols’ family. She called his death, which came three days after he was beaten by Memphis police officers who have since been fired and charged with second-degree murder, a “violent act” that “was not in the interest of public safety”.
“Didn’t he also have a right to be safe?” Harris said, speaking at the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis.
The service, which was delayed due to weather and travel disruptions, began Wednesday with a 70-person choir singing “Strength Like No Other” and remarks from the church’s senior pastor, Reverend J. Lawrence. Turner, who called Nichols “a good person, a beautiful soul, a son, a father, a brother, a friend, a human being.”
“We came with heavy hearts that can only be healed by God’s grace, full transparency, accountability and comprehensive legislative reform,” Turner said.
Mourners were invited to read Nichols’ obituary during a photo slideshow that included images of Nichols, who was beaten for three minutes after a traffic stop and foot chase on Jan. 7, according to reports. images of body-worn cameras and utility poles released by the Memphis Police Department. Footage shows officers pepper spraying, kicking and punching Nichols while he was restrained, hitting him with a baton and shooting him with a stun gun.
After being beaten, Nichols was hospitalized in critical condition and died three days later. He suffered “profuse bleeding caused by a severe beating”, according to an autopsy commissioned by his family.
Sharpton, founder and president of civil rights organization National Action Network, acknowledged that Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, and George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, were at the service before inviting Harris to speak .
“They know what it’s like to sit at a funeral like this,” Sharpton said.
Harris called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act as Nichols’ mother wept and clapped. This bill did not pass the Senate in 2021.
“You have been extraordinary in terms of strength, courage and grace, and we mourn with you, and the people of our country mourn with you,” Harris told Nichols’ family.
Sharpton delivered the eulogy at the request of Nichols’ family. Sharpton said Nichols’ death was personal to him in part because the officers charged with his death were black. The five officers were charged with second-degree murder, among other related charges, and were released on bail ranging from $250,000 to $350,000.
“People had to march and go to jail and some lost their lives to open the doors for you, and how dare you act like that sacrifice was for nothing?” said Sharpton.
Sharpton then invited family attorney Ben Crump to issue a call to action and Nichols’ siblings and parents to share their memories of him.
Keyana Dixon said she was “completely heartbroken” by her brother’s death.
“On the night of January 7, my brother was robbed of his life, his passions and his talents, but not his light,” Dixon said. “I see the world showing her love and fighting for her justice, but all I want is my little brother back.
Prompt dismissal and charges against officers should be the pattern, regardless of the race of the officer involved in the alleged police brutality, Crump said. Nichols’ legacy “will be one of equal justice,” Crump said.
JUSTICE FOR TIRE NICHOLS HAS STARTED AT A HISTORIC PACE:US watching what Memphis does next
“WE HAVE LOST ONE OF OUR OWN”:Black skateboarders from Memphis and beyond pay tribute to Tire Nichols
Nichols’ death has sparked mostly peaceful protests across the country and renewed discussion of federal legislation to overhaul the police and debates about the possibility of systemic change.
The Memphis Fire Department also fired three employees for failing to provide Nichols with adequate medical aid after he arrived on the scene. Authorities announced on Monday that two other officers have been relieved of their duties.
Officers’ duty to provide medical care was a key factor in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted and sentenced to 22½ years in prison for the murder of George Floyd.
Federal investigators opened a civil rights investigation, and the Memphis Police Department permanently disbanded the specialized street unit the officers belonged to, known by the acronym SCORPION.
Nichols’ parents are expected to attend President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address next week after being invited by the Congressional Black Caucus, which is seeking to meet with the president to push for changes in policing.
Notice:Will Tire Nichols’ death lead to police reform? Police unions stand in the way of change.
Our point of view:Police should stop carrying out minor traffic stops that too often turn into major tragedies
Contributors: Laura Testino, Micaela A Watts, Gina Butkovich and Lucas Finton, Memphis Commercial Appeal