January 30, 2023

Tyre Nichols

“Tyre Nichols repeatedly cried, ‘Mom! Mom!’ as the five Memphis police officers now charged with the Black motorist's murder pummeled him with kicks, punches and baton blows after a Jan. 7 traffic stop, video released by the city on Friday showed… The officers, all Black, were dismissed from the police department last week. Nichols, 29, was hospitalized and died of his injuries three days after the confrontation.” Reuters

Both sides condemn the officers’ actions:

“Steel yourself first, but try to watch the video of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, being punched and kicked to death by Memphis police officers. See how vicious the blows are, delivered with grown men’s weight behind them. Be shocked at the way some officers hold Nichols upright or pin him to the ground so that others can take their turn, pummeling him with fists and boots and batons. Note the utter lack of concern from those hard men in blue, sworn public servants, as it takes 22 minutes for an ambulance to arrive…

“It is unclear what, if anything, Nichols did wrong behind the wheel. But it seems clear that there was no reason to approach him so aggressively, as though he were some armed desperado fleeing a murder scene.”
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post

“The cops who beat Nichols to death have been charged with second-degree murder and will face their turn in the criminal justice system. As a lawyer, I don’t see any defense for their wanton violence. Watch the tape. Nichols was complying with commands, and he was beaten. He repeatedly asked the cops to stop, and they continued to beat him. When he escaped and ran (likely knowing that the beatings wouldn’t stop), he was then beaten even more, kicked, and thrown around like a rag doll… One need only watch the video once, to see that what those men did to Nichols was utterly unjustified and criminal.”
Jim Thompson, RedState

Other opinions below.

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From the Left

“One of the sad facts about anti-Black racism is that Black people ourselves are not immune to its pernicious effects. Society’s message that Black people are inferior, unworthy and dangerous is pervasive. Over many decades, numerous experiments have shown that these ideas can infiltrate Black minds as well as White…

“Self-hatred is a real thing. That’s why a Black store owner might regard customers of his same race with suspicion, while treating his White patrons with deference. Black people can harbor anti-Black sentiments and can act on those feelings in harmful ways…

“Black cops are often socialized in police departments that view certain neighborhoods as war zones. In those departments, few officers get disciplined for dishing out ‘street justice’ in certain precincts — often populated by Black, brown or low-income people — where there is a tacit understanding that the ‘rulebook’ simply doesn’t apply. Cops of all colors, including Black police officers, internalize those messages — and sometimes act on them… While racial integration [in police departments] is important for basic fairness and opportunity, it is not a panacea against police abuse.”

Van Jones, CNN

“America’s law enforcement agencies cannot wait for legislation… Police departments should take the lead to revise and reform use-of-force policies, hiring and training standards, and oversight and accountability. Techniques such as chokeholds need to be banned, and practices such as no-knock warrants should be tightly controlled. Officers on special units need to be highly seasoned, fully accountable and regularly rotated…

“Transparency and accountability should be seen for what they are: tools to allow executives to strengthen departments. There is currently no national database of police misconduct, meaning that when officers are fired for cause, they could be hired by another department elsewhere. Law enforcement executives have a duty to ensure that misconduct is never tolerated. I’ve spoken with many law enforcement executives who are trying to make changes on their own. Any current or former officer who loves the profession should be doing the same.”

Val Demings, Washington Post

From the Right

“Anyone who watched the video of Memphis cops fatally beating 29-year-old Tyre Nichols had to be horrified at the senseless brutality of officers sworn to uphold the law. Decent folks should be outraged, the cops held accountable. Yet it would only compound the horror to smear all police officers for the sins of these few

“This tragedy will goose the anti-cop/Defund the Police movement, leading to less policing and more crime, which takes the greatest toll on minorities: A Heritage study last year found blacks were 54% of murder victims nationwide yet just 13% of the population. George Floyd proved it: Following the riots, cities, including New York, cut police resources — and violent crime soared. Why repeat that mistake?…

“Rather, let justice play out: Five of the Nichols cops were already fired and slapped with murder and other charges. If guilty, they’ll likely spend years behind bars, as they should. Police departments also need to redouble efforts to properly train cops and weed out the bad few.”

Editorial Board, New York Post

“Why Is the Biden DOJ Starting a Civil-Rights Probe of Tyre Nichols’s Death?… Memphis has a majority-black police department. Its chief, Cerelyn J. Davis, is a black woman and mother who has been president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. She full-throatedly condemned as a ‘failing of basic humanity’ the brutal treatment to which Nichols was allegedly subjected… [She] decried the conduct of the fired officers as a departure from her department’s practices. The Memphis PD investigated the homicide and is working with the state’s prosecutors…

There is no reason to believe that the department is racist… There is nothing to suggest that federal investigatory involvement is necessary, much less that it would be helpful. For the Biden Justice Department to leap immediately to the conclusion that a civil-rights probe is called for does not indicate a purpose to safeguard federal privileges and immunities. It indicates a purpose to sustain the defamatory narrative that the nation’s police are on the hunt for young black men… Even when the police themselves are young black men.”

Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review

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