Memphis, and law enforcement in other cities, are bracing for unrest after the bodycam footage of the arrest and beating of Tyre Nichols is released in the coming days, or perhaps hours.
Tyre Nichols was a 29-year-old black man who was pulled over for what police claim was reckless driving. According to their report, there was a confrontation after the stop, then he fled on foot, and then there was another confrontation that required an ambulance to be called for Tyre, who then died three days later.
The Memphis Police Department and city government are expecting protests but are hoping their handling of the situation will prevent violence.
This is a black lives matter incident, but the five police officers involved are all black. All five officers have been fired instead of being placed on paid leave. All five are under investigation as are other officers. Perhaps the only failing here is that the cops haven’t been arrested yet. A non-cop would have been charged for beating someone to death by now.
Can we trust police to investigate their own? Too often, we see district attorneys put together grand juries to investigate police only to never bring charges. Fortunately, the Justice Department will conduct a civil rights investigation because surely, Tyre Nichols’ civil rights were denied. There will also be a state investigation.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis said, “Those five officers and others failed our community. This is not just a professional failing, this is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual.”
She also addressed the coming reaction to the release of the video saying, “I expect our citizens to exercise their First Amendment right to protest, to demand action and results. But we need to ensure our community is safe in this process. None of this is a calling card for inciting violence or destruction on our community or against our citizens.”
She has described the video as “heinous, reckless and inhumane” and said, “When the video is released in the coming days, you will see this for yourselves.”
What is it about cop culture, whether the officers are black or white, that makes them beat a black man to death?
Creative note: One of my proofers didn’t think this cartoon worked because Tyre Nichols was stopped for reckless driving, not walking. She also had an issue that it didn’t occur on Beale Street. And then I questioned that myself before deciding “walking” and “Beale” are metaphors which cartoonists deal with every day. But, I could still be wrong and I’ll find out as more readers see this cartoon.
Music note: I hate the song “Walking in Memphis.” I lived near Memphis when the song came out and heard it constantly. The song was released in 1991 while the NFL was expanding its league…and Memphis was one of the hopeful cities. Memphis got a preseason game as part of the experience. The two teams were The Los Angeles Rams and the Houston Oilers. Memphis did not get an expansion team but coincidentally, they did get the Oilers for a season while they waited for their digs to be built in Nashville, which was NOT one of the cities competing for an expansion franchise at that time but got the Oilers which became the Tennessee Titans. Another one of the failed expansion cities was St. Louis which got the Rams, for about three decades at least. But during this expansion game in Memphis, snippets of Memphis music was played between downs. Naturally, there was a lot of Elvis (the team was going to be the Memphis Hound Dogs) but there was also “Walking in Memphis.” I also heard it both times I was in the Memphis airport last November. I never need to hear that song again so no. I did not listen to “Walking in Memphis” while drawing today. I listened to Weezer. However, I did look up the lyrics just to be sure…and yeah, I already knew them. I wonder if Memphians hate that song as much as I do.
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