Vice President Harris speaks at Tire Nichols’ funeral: He ‘should have been safe’


Vice President Harris delivered an unexpected and moving speech at Tire Nichols’ funeral in Memphis on Wednesday, decrying the actions of the officers who brutally beat him and renewing calls for Congress to pass police reform .

Harris, who was present at the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church with several White House officials, was called by the Reverend Al Sharpton to speak after the vice president hugged Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if she shared a few words for us?” Sharpton asked those present.

When she took the stage, Harris, the first woman, black woman and Asian woman to serve as vice president, told Nichols’ parents that the country mourned with them after the death of Nichols, a 29-year-old black man. , more than three weeks ago. She then turned her attention to the actions of the five former Memphis police officers, all of whom are black, who beat Nichols and face second-degree murder and other charges.

“When you look at this situation, it’s a family that lost their son and brother to an act of violence at the hands and feet of the people who were tasked with keeping them safe,” Harris said. “And when I think about the courage and the strength of this family, I think that demands that we speak the truth. With that, I will say that this violent act was not in pursuit of public safety. It was not in the interest of ensuring public safety. One has to ask, “Wasn’t it in the interest of public safety that Tire Nichols be with us today?” Didn’t he also have a right to be safe?

Harris added, “So when we talk about public safety, let’s understand what it means in its truest form: Tire Nichols should have been safe.”

In comments that lasted about five minutes, the vice president told people inside the church how mothers around the world “pray to God that when they hold their child, that body and that life will be in security for the rest of his life. She wondered why Nichols, as in many fatal police incidents involving black men and women in recent years, had not been so lucky.

“We have a mother and father who mourn the life of a young man who should be here today,” Harris said. “They have a grandson who no longer has a father. His brother and sister will lose the love of growing old with their little brother.

The vice president also renewed her call for Congress to pass the George Floyd Police Justice Act, which Democrats passed the House in 2021 to create a federal database for misconduct allegations. officers, urge states to end no-knock warrants and restrict transfer. of military equipment to the police, among other changes. Push for the bill followed the deaths of several black people at the hands of police, including Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Harris, who noted that she was a co-sponsor of the original bill when she was in the Senate, said there was no time to waste on passing police reform that had previously failed in the Senate. Congress.

“As Vice President of the United States, we demand that Congress pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Joe Biden will sign it,” she said to one of the loudest standing ovations during her address. “And we must not delay and not be refused. It’s non-negotiable. »

Biden and Harris are scheduled to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus at the White House on Thursday to discuss the reforms.

She concluded her remarks on Wednesday by reflecting on Luke 1:79, her favorite verse in the Bible, which notes how to “enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of the peace “. .”

“May our memory of Tire light the way to peace and justice,” she said.


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