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ACLU of Tennessee:

January 27, 2023


January 27, 2023

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Officials in Memphis are preparing to release body camera footage from the police beating that resulted in Tyre Nichols’ death. Five former Memphis police officers have been charged with second degree murder and other charges for their role in Mr. Nichols’ death. In response, the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee released the following statements:

Kathy Sinback, executive director, ACLU of Tennessee: 

“Tyre Nichols should be alive today. “We join with the family, the Memphis community, and the nation in mourning Tyre Nichols’ senseless loss and demanding justice.

“No one deserves the kind of abuse that Mr. Nichols suffered, yet such trauma falls disproportionately and repeatedly on communities of color. Our current system of policing does not value all lives equally. In Tennessee, Black people account for 17 percent of the population, but over 47 percent of the people killed by police.

“It's past time to end the disparate, ineffective and violent policing of communities of color, and the constant surveillance, targeting and harassment of Black and Brown people. We must stop relying on police to respond to issues related to poverty and disinvestment, which leads to more frequent, unnecessary and aggressive actions by law enforcement toward community members. It's time for us to reimagine the role of police to be far narrower, while investing in supportive, community-based solutions for public safety independent of the criminal legal system.

“We are committed to following the lead of our community partners in Memphis fighting for a new approach to policing and the criminal legal system, in calling for accountability for Mr. Nichols’ death; transparency in reporting on civilian complaints and law enforcement malfeasance; collection and reporting of data on traffic stops; and a full and public review of the policies, protocols, training and complaints against the SCORPION unit.

“Everyone deserves to live a life free from harmful policing and violence, regardless of where we live, how we look, or who we are. We will keep fighting for a Memphis that invests in non-punitive, non-carceral approaches to the community and centers the protection of Black lives, a Memphis where what happened to Tyre Nichols never happens again.”

Yasmin Cader, deputy legal director and director of the ACLU’s Trone Center for Justice and Equality:

“We express our profound grief for Tyre Nichols’ family and all those who love him. A man lost his life, a family lost a beloved son and father, and a community lost a friend to police violence.

“Yet again, we are witnessing a horrific abusive act committed by members of an institution that purports to act in our name and to keep us safe. The Black community again is faced with burying one of our own at the hands of police.

“There must be accountability for this unspeakable act and we must continue fighting for a society in which police violence is rare instead of rampant. But none of this will bring Tyre Nichols back to his loved ones.

“Tyre Nichols’ killing underscores the urgent need to change the role and practices of police in our society. We must all work towards transformational change that centers care and safety – and that includes being safe from police violence. Through our grief, we will continue this struggle.”