It is no secret that there have been tensions between law enforcement and Black people. The number of Blacks killed by them is legion, and with each case people get up in arms. The demonstrations are loud, intense, and may last for a couple of days. And then it’s over. The protestors pack up and go home. And then it happens again, and again. Think about Michael Brown, George Floyd, Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, etc., etc.
The latest casualty of the American version of law enforcement is particularly perplexing and cruel…no white people are involved.
Five African American police officers beat the life out of a young African American male, Tyre Nichols, in Memphis, Tennessee. According to reports, Nichols was “driving erratically” and was pulled over because of that. The officers approached the car with their guns drawn and then dragged him out of the car without explaining why he was being detained. As of yet, there is no proof that he was driving erratically.
Authorities waited a period of time before releasing the videos of the event, and a lot of African Americans have opted not to watch it because of the intensity of the images that they expected to be revealed. That may, or may not, be the best route to take, because the images of the beat-down and consequent murder are enough to generate action.
Predictably, the demonstrations are now ongoing. Interestingly, the five officers involved in the debacle were arrested and charged before the videos were even released. It is the quickest that officers have been charged when compared to almost all of the previous cases of the use of excessive force that have resulted in the death of a citizen.
Could this be a subtle case of racism? In the past, policemen have been suspended with or without pay, given a relatively light sentence or slapped on the wrist. One exception is the case of George Floyd, wherein former officer Derek Chauvin received a sentence of more than 20 years, which was a move in the right direction.
Theoretically, the fact that the officers are Black somewhat diffuses the notion of racism in the eyes of some people. There are those Blacks who have decided that this, too, is a case of racism due to the racism embedded in the system. In other words, the ubiquity of racism affects the Black officers who are, themselves, victims of a racist system. This might fuel a kind of self-hate, which possibly served as a motivation for what they did.
Based on the videos, Nichols was calm and collected throughout the ordeal, unlike the wildly-behaving policemen who were part of a special police unit called Scorpion that had been organized to fight the escalation of crime in Memphis. The way they went about dealing with Nichols was like something out of a keystone cops movie; the officers acted like crazed, insane villains who mercilessly beat Nichols without giving him an adequate reason for why they were behaving the way that they did.
The spectacle was elaborately appalling, ridiculous, and downright cruel. Nichols was subsequently taken to the hospital where he spent three difficult days before expiring.
There was no reason for Tyre Nichols to lose his life. This was a senseless, ropeless lynching where the “strange fruit” died in a hospital bed instead of strung up on a tree, and the perpetrators were of the same dark hue as the victim. Tyre Nichols, who left behind a young child and other family members, should be alive today. Ironically, as in the case of George Floyd, he could be heard calling for his mother while the cops were beating him.
The behavior of the cops came from a place of pure evil no matter how you cut it. In the video tapes the officers could be seen walking around nonchalantly after they had finished their dastardly deed.
African Americans have to realize that the more we excuse bad behavior in our own communities, coming from people who look like us, the more emboldened evildoers will become while wreaking havoc among us. We must understand that evil has no color!
We must keep up the pressure to ensure that ANYONE who is a threat to the well-being of our communities is stopped in their tracks. We must not let up and be lulled back into complacency until the next display of deadly cruelty toward innocent Black people occurs! And we must seek justice for Tyre Nichols and other victims of cruel cops who cause convoluted corruption!!! A Luta Continua.