Harris at Tyre Nichols’ funeral: This isn’t public safety


The funeral of Tyre Nichols, a Black man who died after being beaten by police officers in Memphis, Tenn., was marked by emotion, music and a renewed call for justice on Wednesday, including by Vice President Kamala Harris.

“This is a family that lost their son and their brother through an act of violence, at the hands and the feet of people who had been charged with keeping them safe,” Harris said at the service in Memphis.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) plans to reintroduce after next week’s State of the Union speech the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act with a “Tyre Nichols Duty to Intervene” provision added, Nichols family attorney Ben Crump said at the service.

With the families of other victims of police violence in attendance, Harris and several other speakers called for passage of the police reform bill, which stalled after passing in the House in 2021. The content of the addition named after Nichols was not outlined at the service.

“This violent act was not in pursuit of public safety. … When we talk about public safety, let us understand what it means in its truest form,” Harris said of the police action that killed Nichols. “Tyre Nichols should have been safe.”

Harris traveled to Memphis for the funeral, which was held at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church. She was not listed as a speaker on the program, but was invited up by civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton during the service.

“They told her she shouldn’t be here today, but the snow backed up, and she’s here,” Sharpton said of Harris at the funeral, to applause.

The Rev. Dr. J. Lawrence Turner, pastor at the Memphis church, also called for lawmakers to act as he opened the speaking portion of the program.

“We have come with heavy hearts that can only be healed by the grace of God, full transparency, accountability and comprehensive legislative reform,” Turner said, noting that Wednesday marked the first day of Black History Month.

Former Atlanta Mayor and White House adviser Keisha Lance Bottoms, Jackson Lee and Rep. Steve Cohen, a Republican who represents Memphis, were also present, Sharpton said.

The families of many other Black victims of police killings, including loved ones of George Floyd, Eric Garner and Breonna Taylor, came to the funeral as well, Sharpton said.

Nichols’ parents arescheduled to attend“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:”https://apnews.com/article/biden-tyre-nichols-steven-horsford-memphis-covid-87d37d81e265505097408302341fa302″,”_id”:”00000186-0f2a-d2c9-afb6-afeffaf0000a”,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000186-0f2a-d2c9-afb6-afeffaf0000b”,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}’>scheduled to attend President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address next week. The Congressional Black Caucus will meet Thursday“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:”https://www.politico.com/news/2023/02/01/black-caucus-biden-police-reform-00080674″,”_id”:”00000186-0f2a-d2c9-afb6-afeffaf10000″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000186-0f2a-d2c9-afb6-afeffaf10001″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}’>will meet Thursday with Biden and Harris.

Nichols’ parents both called for legislative reform in their emotional remarks.

“We need to get that bill passed, because if we don’t, that blood, that next child that dies — that blood is going to be on their hands,” Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, said.

Biden previously said he was “outraged” watching the video of the police violence that led to Nichols’ death. In it, Nichols called out for his mother and asked to go home.

The 29-year-old father liked skateboarding“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:”https://www.politico.com/newsletters/the-recast/2023/01/31/tyre-nichols-republicans-police-reform-00080439″,”_id”:”00000186-0f2a-d2c9-afb6-afeffaf10002″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000186-0f2a-d2c9-afb6-afeffaf10003″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}’>liked skateboarding and photography. He died three days after the brutal police beating on Jan. 7.

While lawmakers, including Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) called for reform“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:”https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2023/01/30/washington-confronts-the-tyre-nichols-tragedy-00080122″,”_id”:”00000186-0f2a-d2c9-afb6-afeffaf10004″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000186-0f2a-d2c9-afb6-afeffaf10005″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}’>called for reform in the wake of the attack, Republicans, including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)have actively resisted“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:”https://www.politico.com/news/2023/01/29/jim-jordan-tyre-nichols-police-reform-00080069″,”_id”:”00000186-0f2a-d2c9-afb6-afeffaf10007″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000186-0f2a-d2c9-afb6-afeffaf10008″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}’>have actively resisted doing the same.

Five police officers were fired and charged with murder after Nichols’ death, and the officers’ specialized unit was disbanded. Two more officers were suspended, and three Memphis emergency workers were also fired.

At the funeral, Nichols’ mother said she was grateful for swift action against the officers.

Sharpton lamented that the five officers charged with killing Nichols were Black, in the city where civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

“In the city where the dreamer laid down and shed his blood,” Sharpton said, “you have the unmitigated gall to beat your brother, chase him down and beat him some more.”

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