It is with profound sorrow, grief, and righteous anger that we respond to another tragic killing of another unarmed black man at the hands of those who were sworn to protect and serve the community.
On January 7, 2023, Tyre Nichols was pulled over for what the police report called “reckless driving.” However, according to video evidence, no such recklessness was shown. In fact, what was shown was wildly different from the account shared by the now-fired offices.
Instead, video evidence shows police officers forcing Mr. Nichols from his car, threatening to hurt him, and then — upon him fleeing — beating him for three minutes. In the thirteen minutes of escalation, New York Times analysts found that the officers gave him seventy one commands, most of which were unreasonable, impossible, or both. Later, Nichols is seen on the ground, begging for the offices to stop and screaming for his mother. The officers continued to kick, punch, and pummel him with a baton.
Three days later, Nichols succumbed to his wounds. He was twenty nine.
He was a father of a four year old boy. He loved to skateboard, and he loved nature. He moved to Memphis just before the pandemic, but in such a short amount of time, he fell in love. He loved his home. He loved the sunrise. Nichols had a Wix page where he posted photos of local landmarks, the sun setting over the Mississippi River, and even blue clubs. He was here. Now, through no fault of his own, he’s not.
There is a lot of noise right now. Many will take this as an opportunity to slander Tyre Nichols. They will dig through history for any reason to make this justice, to make this right. Others are rightfully heartbroken. They are screaming and crying. They are worried for their black children, friends, and lovers. We hear you all. The world hears you all. But for a moment, we ask to settle the noise.
Repeat as needed.
Our Turn is focused on student education and advocacy, but even more so, the core belief that we all deserve better. Tyre Nichols’s death is the shame of America. It is a stain on the soul of democracy.
We reflect on the recent tragedies, we are reminded that oppression has been with the American system since the start. It cannot be removed without first dismantling the system that allows it to exist. We must not only be diligent but compassionate in the war against systemic racism, police brutality, and the injustice that has plagued us for far too long.
As the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Now more than ever Our Turn remains steadfast in its commitment to a better future for our children.
Supporting students’ mental health is one of the core parts of Our Turn’s Student Agenda, and as we continue to process more trauma, it is imperative we only increase that support. Please, feel free to submit thoughts, grievances, or even just vents to [email protected].
Last year, Zaria Dempsey, an Our Turn Organizing Fellow in Denver, shared powerful words on supporting student mental health — you can read here. Here is another article by Mashable on how to avoid stress and trauma while also being informed.