DK Statement re: Police Murder of Tyre Nichols
The Democratizing Knowledge Collective at Syracuse University (DK), expresses our condolences to the family and friends of Tyre Nichols for the abhorrent crimes by the Memphis, TN police who took his life. We issue our strongest condemnation for the officers who committed murder and other crimes against humanity against Mr. Nichols. The video released of the brutality that was unleashed by five Black former members of the Memphis Police Department reveal that police culture in the United States reserves the cruelest treatment for victims of color, no matter the race of the officers.
Tyre Nichols was only 29 years old when he was stopped for alleged reckless driving. These charges have yet to be substantiated but are of no consequence in any event. Nothing justified the monstrous treatment of Mr. Nichols as the officers beat, struck, kicked, pepper-sprayed, c, cursed, propped up, and repeated their grotesque assaults on his life. The sheer sadistic nature of the beatings is incomprehensible, but they are not unknown in the systemic criminalizing and brutalizing of Black and Brown bodies by the police.
While some have already made the specious argument that race is a non-factor in this killing because the officers and victims are Black, this makes little sense in a country where the race of the victim is the dispositive factor for law enforcement treatment. This is well-documented in disproportionate stops, arrests, convictions, punishment, and deaths of unarmed Black and Brown people in encounters with the police and experiences in the criminal justice system. Thus, Tyre Nichols’ death is not a surprise in a systemic order of racist dimensions that devalues and dehumanizes Black and Brown people’s lives and rationalizes the violence against them. Still, it is a chilling reminder of the sheer depravity and inhumanity that all the world witnessed in the exercise of police power over a defenseless Black man’s body.
We are sickened and appalled. We think most people are. Thus, we cannot rest in demanding justice for Tyre Nichols and all victims of lethal police violence. We must continue to expose the violence of the system and insist on the overhaul of racist law enforcement institutions and practices. Indeed, the struggle for our lives continues.
Current DK Collective Members are: Himika Bhattacharya, PJ DiPietro, Paula Johnson, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Atiya McGhee