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Black Memphis Police Spark Dialogue on Systemic Racism in The U.S.
Black Memphis Police Spark Dialogue on Systemic Racism in The U.S. Tyre Nichols’ mother is grieving over her son’s horrific death at 29. Five Memphis police officers charged with beating him are Black. “They are Black and they know what we have to go through,” RowVaughn Wells remarked last week.
Black activists and police reformers have grappled with institutional racism in policing due to the color of the five policemen charged in the Nichols homicide. Nichols died three days after Black officers pulled him out of his car on Jan. 7 and kicked, punched, and hit him with a baton on a quiet neighborhood street, as shown in body-camera videos published Friday.
The widely seen recordings of the Nichols beating fed right-wing media ecosystems that blame Black America’s ills on Black America and sparked complex conversations among Black activists about how institutional racism can appear in non-White people’s acts.
After decades of struggle, the Memphis Police Department, with approximately 2,000 officers, is 58 percent Black. Memphis Police Chief Carolyn Davis, who is Black, and other officials immediately fired, arrested, and charged the Memphis officers before video footage was released, unlike in some previous high-profile police brutality instances.
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Memphis chief Cerelyn Davis calls Tyre Nichols case “defining moment.” Analysts suggest police officers of color use less force against Black individuals than White officers, but the change is small. “Diversifying law enforcement will not fix this problem,” said Mapping Police Violence president Samuel Sinyangwe.
He cited directions to work in communities with more people of color and a system that relies on officer discretion to conduct traffic stops, which allows internal biases to play a role. Weekend Fox News discussions were less intellectual.
“Tucker Carlson Tonight” guest Jason Whitlock, a conservative Black sports culture writer, criticized “young Black males and their unwillingness to treat one other in a compassionate way” while muted film of Memphis police beating Nichols aired.
I saw gang brutality. Whitlock added, “It looked like what young Black men do when they’re supervised by a single, Black lady.” Davis, the Memphis police chief, is married. Tyre Nichols’s savage beating pushed Congress to overhaul policing.
Jeanelle Austin, who maintains the George Floyd Global Memorial in Minnesota, said that focusing on individual officers following police killings rather than the institution they belong to fosters the narrative that policing issues are caused by a few bad apples, which police support.
“This is what I fear: What’s going to happen in Memphis is what happened in Minneapolis—when Derek Chauvin and the other [three] officers were charged, the narrative switched from a problem of the police department to an individual issue,” Austin said. PR strategy.
“What we’ve been screaming from our lungs for years is that the system and the culture of police teach people’s minds regardless of skin color to behave a certain way,” she said. Craig Futterman, a clinical professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School who researches policing and civil rights, said systemic racism is harder to understand than White-on-Black offenses.
“We enjoy the binary—the good folks and the bad guys,” he remarked. “It’s considerably easier to swallow the tale in a straightforward way watching a White officer firing 14 rounds at a young Black youngster laying on the ground,” he said, recalling the 2014 Laquan McDonald murder.
Activists have advocated policing reform since the 2014 Ferguson protests. Lack of consolidation between local, state, and federal police agencies and congressional inaction have prevented major changes. Ayanna Robinson flew 6 1/2 hours from Indianapolis to Memphis more than two weeks after Nichols was killed after being pulled over for reckless driving.
She expected thousands of protesters angry at his filmed beating by police. She found scores of peaceful demonstrators. After Floyd, a Black man was killed in Minneapolis police custody in May 2020, Robinson, 28, a Kentucky Fried Chicken manager, claimed the turnout was nothing like Memphis.
She claimed the city appeared too quiet following the Nichols murder. “There needs to be a reaction, and right now there’s no form of action,” she said, glancing around a park where 100 protesters gathered Friday evening.
Robinson believed that Nichols’s death was muted since the five officers charged with attacking him are Black. White officers would have caused “all hell.” War would have engulfed the city.” In January 2020, a Black cop in Prince George’s County, Md., shot and killed her relative William Green while he was shackled. Nikki Owens felt the same rage.
Owens, who works for the Maryland Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability, said, “In America, we’re taught that racism is black and white. Despite seeing it around, we are not taught about institutional or systemic racism. We’re taught that Black people killing Black people isn’t racist. “Black-on-Black crime.”
Owens said the attitude hindered her efforts to mobilize locals and garner national and local media coverage of her cousin’s murder. “No outrage,” she replied. “Nobody contacted us after George Floyd died.”Owens felt the public regarded her cousin’s death differently than other police killings. The officer’s criminal trial begins this year.
“When I told individuals the cop was Black, I could see their reaction,” she added. “And other folks would question what color the cop was—another sign of that lack of understanding.” While the racism isn’t blatant, several demonstrators argued Nichols’s killing may help the nation realize systemic, institutional racism and how it compromises individuals.
Former South Carolina state senator, civil rights attorney, and CNN contributor Bakari Sellers claimed the Nichols beating reminded him of J. Alexander Kueng, the Black Minneapolis police officer who crouched on Floyd’s back as Derek Chauvin smothered him.
Sellers said Kueng discussed how he could improve police. “And then like three days after his hire, he’s there seeing George Floyd being brutalized and doing nothing. “Many Black people see cops as cops.” Minneapolis neighborhood organizer and former NAACP president Jason Sole claimed he never felt relief upon encountering Black officers.
“I never felt ‘Oh fantastic, it’s a Black cop, yay.’ No. “I never felt that,” Sole stated. “Your kinfolk aren’t kin.” “We need people who are kind, people who are showing we care, people who understand that grace has to be extended to everybody,” Sole stated, regardless of race. Foster-Frau covered Washington.
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