We're 30 days into 2023, and as a nation, instead of celebrating hopes, dreams, and goals for the new year, we find ourselves yet again mourning, shaken, and heartbroken -
On January 7, 2023, Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who enjoyed taking pictures of sunsets, skateboarding, and spending time with his family was brutally beaten by police officers in Memphis, Tennessee during a traffic stop. Tyre died just three days later after being taken to the hospital for shortness of breath.
Five Black, former Memphis police officers have been charged with second degree murder for their role in Tyre’s death. A sixth officer has been relieved of duty and three individuals from the Memphis Fire Department have been terminated for failing to conduct an adequate patient assessment. This tragic loss is not only a symptom of state-sanctioned violence left unchecked, but also highlights the ways indoctrination, white supremacy, and systemic racism is so deeply embedded in this nation’s legal system.
Excessive force and racial profiling must be stopped, qualified immunity must be limited, and a duty to intervene must be enforced. Still H.R. 1280 – The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 – remains stalled by our elected officials almost two years after being received in the Senate.
The sustained and collective trauma we endure is the result of generations of political, economic, and social oppression. We cannot allow ourselves to become apathetic due to the recurrence of horrific violence in our communities. We must continue to demand change with unrelenting and persistent urgency – an overhaul of an inherently racist policing system that targets and terrorizes communities of color, equitable access to healthcare including mental health resources, affordable housing, and funding for educational programs will only begin to scratch the surface of necessary reform.
Don’t tire. Send the email. Make the call. Contact your elected officials to demand better.
Though statements and calls for action seem to be just another step in a vicious cycle, we must continue to raise our collective voices and take action towards creating a world where Black men and women get to go home.
Tyre should have made it home.
Tyre should be looking forward to another sunset, to teaching his son about skateboarding, to the embrace of his mother. We cannot say that the system meant to protect him failed because the system we live in was meant to uphold white supremacy at the detriment of all others.
We do not have the privilege of being passive now. As an organization and community, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to working towards an equitable and inclusive society where…
Black bodies are sacred,
Black lives are sacred, and
Black joy is sacred.
Rest in love and power, Tyre.
Information and resources:
Black Lives Matter Memphis - Call to action - Justice for Tyre Nichols