Detroiters call for justice after release of footage in death of Tyre Nichols
Nearly 20 protesters took to the streets of downtown Detroit on Friday to call for justice in response to the release of body camera footage showing the brutal assault of Tyre Nichols by five Memphis police officers.
The rally was organized by the Detroit branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, demanding "an end to racist police terror in Black and Brown communities."
"Yet another mother has to bury her son," Detroit Will Breathe and Left Voice organizer Brian Silverstein said during his speech. "The outrage of Memphis and all supporters of Black lives is a justified one. ... We see this pattern way too often."
Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was beaten by five Memphis Police Department officers during a traffic stop on Jan. 7. He was hospitalized in critical condition and died from his injuries three days later.
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A vigil and moment of silence were held. Emotional speeches were shared in solidarity with Nichols’ life and family. Signs saying, "Unions against police murder," and "Systems of racist police, violence must end," were held by protesters.
Sam Schaefer, an organizer for the Party of Socialism and Liberation, said the murder was “truly egregious. ... This is not a flaw of the police system; this is a feature of the capitalist police system."
The former Memphis police officers were members of the department’s SCORPION unit, which stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods. The unit is controversial and is used to “attack Tyre like many others in Memphis,” Schaefer said. “We have similar special police units here in Detroit.”
Nichol was a FedEx worker and the father to a 4 year-old-son.
Cameron Harrison, 30, of Detroit, attended the protest to show that police murder is not supported by union workers. Harrison is a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 876.
"I'd like to see a civilian oversight board in every city, community control of the police department," Harrison said. "I'd like to see funding go away from weapons and (go to) jobs, housing and water."
Harrison also stated that he does not need to watch the released footage to know "what the police are capable of."
The five former officers —Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmit Martin III and Desmond Mills Jr.— were fired on Jan. 21 and charged Thursday with second-degree murder and other crimes in connection to Nichols' death, according to USA Today.
State and local officials issued statements Friday denouncing the officers’ actions and calling for police reforms.
"What happened to Tyre Nichols in Memphis is sickening,” said Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter. “No human, no family should have to endure such brutality, but here we are, again confronting an appalling reminder that justice is not dispensed equitably. People of conscience are rightfully outraged by this violence and yet it's my hope that in our pain we seek the wisdom and courage to channel outrage into action, reform, and justice for Tyre, his family, and our country."
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard pointed to a plan he has had in the works for years — Policing 2.0 — that calls for improvements to modern policing.
“The answer is rooted first in better hiring, i.e., ensuring that people have the character and integrity to wear a badge,” Bouchard said. “And secondly, better real-world training. The need for additional funding for training in de-escalation, use-of-force, and policing tactics is imperative to improve modern policing in America. Proper training facilities and scenario-based training that stresses officers during realistic training allows a better chance for those split-second decisions to be appropriately made. Only those candidates who are vigorously screened, highly trained and competent should be permitted to serve their communities.”
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroiters call for justice after release of Tyre Nichols video