Protesters once again took to the streets to decry police brutality over the weekend after the release of video depicting the violent Memphis police beating that led to the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols.
Demonstrators marched through New York City, Atlanta, Boston, Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland, among other cities across the nation on Saturday, raising signs bearing his name and calling for an end to abuses of authority.
In Memphis, at a makeshift memorial near the corner where Nichols was beaten, resident Kiara Hill expressed her disappointment and said the neighborhood was quiet and family-oriented.
“To see the events unfold how they’ve unfolded, with this Tyre Nichols situation, is heartbreaking. I have a son,” Hill told CNN. “And Tyre, out of the officers on the scene, he was the calmest.”
He was then left slumped to the ground in handcuffs, with 23 minutes passing before a stretcher arrives at the scene. Nichols was eventually hospitalized and died three days later.
Nichols’ family attorney Ben Crump said that the quick firing and arrests of the police officers and release of video should be a “blueprint” for how police brutality allegations should be handled going forward. He applauded Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis for arresting and charging the officers within 20 days.
“When you see police officers commit crimes against citizens, then we want you to act just as swiftly and show as the chief said, the community needs to see it, but we need to see it too when it’s white police officers,” Crump said.
The attorney for one of the officers indicted, Mills Jr., put out a statement Friday night saying that he didn’t cross lines “that others crossed” during the confrontation.
All five officers were members of the now-scrapped SCORPION unit, Memphis police spokesperson Maj. Karen Rudolph told CNN on Saturday. The unit, launched in 2021, put officers into areas where police were tracking upticks in violent crime.
But disbanding the unit without giving officers new training would be “putting lipstick on a pig,” city council chair Martavius Jones told CNN Saturday.
Memphis city councilmember Patrice Robinson also told CNN disbanding the unit does not go far enough in addressing issues within the agency.
“We have to fight the bad players in our community, and now we’ve got to fight our own police officers. That is deplorable,” Robinson said. “We’re going to have to do something.”
The fallout from the deadly encounter also stretched to other agencies involved.
Two Memphis Fire Department employees who were part of Nichols’ initial care were relieved of duty, pending the outcome of an internal investigation. And two deputies with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office have been put on leave pending an investigation.
The bills will seek to address mental health care for law enforcement officers, hiring, training, discipline practices and other topics, said Rep. G.A. Hardaway, who represents a portion of Memphis and Shelby County.
Rep. Joe Towns Jr., who also represents a portion of Memphis, said legislation could pass through the state house as early as April or May.
While Democrats hold the minority with 24 representatives compared to the Republican majority of 99 representatives, Towns said this legislation is not partisan and should pass on both sides of the legislature.
“You would be hard-pressed to look at this footage (of Tyre Nichols) and see what happened to that young man, OK, and not want to do something. If a dog in this county was beaten like that, what the hell would happen?” Towns said.