Sadly and most egregiously, here we are again. Another unarmed Black man is murdered by police in the street like a dog. In truth, there is so much more compassion for dogs than there is for Black people in America. Tyre Nichols is the latest victim. His murder captures the ugly past and present state of the Black American experience, or should I say, endurance. At this time, no one seems to know why Tyre was stopped by the Memphis Police Department’s SCORPION unit. The horrific video shows that Tyre was cursed at, threatened, subdued, tased, chased, beaten (with fists, feet, and batons), pepper-sprayed, and ultimately grotesquely murdered. I had to pause for weeping while writing this piece. What an absolute tragedy, but one of the most despicable aspects of Tyre Nichols’ nightmare, and there were many, was that all this mayhem occurred at the hands of so-called Black police officers. You ask, how can this be? I answer, there are Black people who are also white supremacists.
I have long concluded that Black people with all of our gifts, talents, knowledge, skills, and abilities are hated in America fundamentally because our skin is not white. No Black person is safe in the United States of America, not even from other Black people. Consider this, when people are immersed in a white supremacist culture that demonizes Black people, is it any wonder that some Black people would become self-loathing? From the time of slavery in America, Black self-hatred has manifested in many forms and its malevolence was on full display with the ugly murder of Tyre Nichols. The Memphis Police Chief, Cerelyn Davis, to her credit, almost immediately terminated the five Black police officers and they are currently charged with several crimes including second degree murder. At this writing, the SCORPION unit within the Memphis PD has been disbanded.
Let’s reflect on Tyre Nichols’ all-too-brief life. He was a 29 year old man who was obviously loved by his mom and family. While being brutally beaten by the Memphis police only a hundred yards from his home, he cried out for his mom, RowVaughn Wells. Tyre was the youngest child born 12 years from his closest sibling. He was the father of a four year old boy who will never again see his daddy. His family and friends described him as a loving and spiritual person full of joy who attended a Bible study weekly every Thursday. He was a creative, a self-described “aspiring” photographer featuring on his website photography of nature and the world captured through his lens. He worked at FedEx, and he loved to skateboard. He was going about his life on the horrific night of January 7, 2023 when his fate was sealed, and he succumbed to his injuries just three days later on January 10th.
The investigation into the death of Tyre Nichols is ongoing and may uncover additional parties responsible. Literally adding insult to injury, The Washington Post reported that Tyre Nichols was forced to wait more than 20 minutes for an ambulance after the brutal attack by the five Black Memphis Police Officers. Twitter has been abuzz with speculation regarding the swift action against the Black police officers. In many high profile incidents where White police officers have killed Black people, it has taken weeks and months to hold police accountable, if at all. Regardless, the murder of Tyre Nichols reveals serious problems in the Memphis PD. The mother of Tyre said it best during an interview on MSNBC, the Black officers who murdered her son have brought shame upon themselves, their families, and the entire community.
I offer sincere condolences to the family and friends of Tyre Nichols. May Tyre rest in peace, and may God grant comfort to the family and all who mourn the loss of our young brother.