'Tyre Nichols Should Have Been Safe'

Kamala Harris was among thousands at Memphis funeral service
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2023 6:15 PM CST
'Tyre Nichols Should Have Been Safe'
The Rev. Al Sharpton delivers the eulogy during the funeral service for Tyre Nichols at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, Tenn., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023.   (Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean via AP, Pool)

Tyre Nichols' loved ones were joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, the Rev. Al Sharpton, director Spike Lee, and more than 2,000 others at his funeral in Memphis on Wednesday. The service was a celebration of the 29-year-old's life—and a call for justice. Nichols died three days after he was beaten by police officers last month. In brief remarks, Harris said: "This violent act was not in the pursuit of public safety. It was not in the interest of keeping the public safe. One must ask, ‘Was it not in the interest of public safety that Tyre Nichols would be with us today? Was he also not entitled to the right to be safe?” The vice president added, "So when we talk about public safety, let us understand what it means in its truest form: Tyre Nichols should have been safe." More key moments:

  • Sharpton opened his eulogy by recognizing those present who had lost family members to police violence, including relatives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Eric Garner, the Guardian reports.

  • Sharpton said the officers involved—who, like Nichols, are Black—might have acted differently if there was more accountability, or if Nichols had been white. "We understand that there are concerns about public safety. We understand that there are needs that deal with crime,” Sharpton said, per the AP. "But you don’t fight crime by becoming criminals yourself. You don’t stand up to thugs in the street becoming thugs yourself. You don’t fight gangs by becoming five armed men against an unarmed man. That ain’t the police. That’s punks."
  • Civil rights attorney Ben Crump called for equal justice. "Why couldn’t they see the humanity in Tyre?” he said of the police officers. He said the swift firing and murder charges for the officers should be a "blueprint" for other cases.
  • Keyana Dixon, Nichols' sister, was the first family member to speak, the Washington Post reports. "Monsters murdered my baby brother. They left me completely heartbroken,” she said. Dixon added: "Even in his demise, he was still polite. He was still the polite young man he always was. He asked them to please stop, and they didn't." Nichols, who had a 4-year-old son, was the youngest sibling in the family, born 11 years after Dixon.
  • Row Vaughn Wells, Nichols' mother, fought back tears as she spoke of her son and called for Congress to pass the policing reform bill named after George Floyd, the AP reports. "The only thing that’s keeping me going is that I truly believe that my son was sent here on assignment from God," she said. "And I guess now his assignment is done. He’s gone home."
  • The service ended with music, including a "stirring gospel rendition of Sam Cooke’s "A Change Is Gonna Come," the New York Times reports.
(More Tyre Nichols stories.)

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