Protests begin across US after police release footage of fatal beating of Tyre Nichols

Protests begin across US after police release footage of fatal beating of Tyre Nichols

Sunday 29/01/2023
Protestors gather in US cities of Memphis and New York.

Protests have broken out across the US after the public release of videos showing five officers savagely beating Tyre Nichols, who later died.

WARNING: This story contains content some readers may find disturbing.

The videos from police body-worn cameras and a camera mounted on a utility pole were posted online a day after the officers were charged with second-degree murder, assault, kidnapping, official misconduct and oppression in relation to Mr Nichols' death.

Four video clips chronicle an aggressive escalation of violence directed at a motorist, who police had initially said they pulled over for reckless driving. The police chief has since said the cause for the stop has not been substantiated.

The videos are filled with violent moments showing the officers, who are also black, chasing and pummelling Nichols and leaving him on the pavement, propped against a squad car as they fist-bumped and celebrated their actions.

As the videos were released on Friday evening, protests flared up across the US.

About 100 protesters in Memphis marched along Interstate 55, shutting down traffic near a bridge that crosses the Mississippi River into Arkansas.

The protesters chanted: "Say his name! Tyre Nichols!"

Three people were arrested for damaging a police vehicle during protests in Times Square, a spokesperson for the New York City Police Department said.

Demonstrations appeared largely peaceful in other cities, including Atlanta, Sacramento and Washington DC, where protesters gathered in a park near the White House.

Several NBA basketball stars and teams released statements of support for the family, as did the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association.

The Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves paid tribute to Mr Nichols before the start of their game on Friday night.

Chilling images of another black man dying at the hands of police has provoked more tough questions about the nation's policing culture and has raised the spectre of renewed protests less than three years after a wave of demonstrations wracked the country.

The Nichols family's legal team has likened the assault to the infamous 1991 police beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King.

Four of the officers have posted bail and have been released from jail, a CBS affiliate reported on Friday.

Blake Ballin — a lawyer for Desmond Mills Jr, one of the defendants — said it might be another two weeks before the five of them make their initial court appearances.

Nichols 'basically died for his own cause'

Nichols's death marked the latest high-profile instance of police officers being accused of using excessive force in the deaths of black people and other minorities in recent years.

Protests under the banner of the "Black Lives Matter" movement against racial injustice erupted globally after the May 2020 murder of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes.

Antonio Romanucci — another lawyer for Nichols' family — told National Public Radio on Friday that Nichols was a strong supporter of Black Lives Matter and "basically died for his own cause".

Nichols's family and Mr Biden appealed for protests to stay peaceful in Memphis, a city of 628,000, where nearly 65 per cent of residents are black.

Unions in California and Hawaii issued a joint statement, calling the actions of the officers "repugnant and the complete antithesis of how honourable law enforcement professionals conduct themselves".

The Prosecutors Alliance of California calls the killing senseless and in California's capital, Sacramento, Mayor Darrell Steinberg said: "I am filled with anger, with sorrow and revulsion."

In Los Angeles, new Mayor Karen Bass, who is black, said the video showed "ferocious violence from an out-of-control herd" but also commended Memphis officials for firing, arresting and charging the officers involved with murder. US President Joe Biden said he was "outraged" and "deeply pained" after watching the Memphis video.

Story by ABC/ Wires

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