Tyre Nichols: Activists take cries for justice to Shelby County Commission

Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 10:46 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Local activists took their cries for justice to the Shelby County Commission Monday, namely seeking a change in the way the Shelby County sheriff does business. Protestors want the sheriff to use the video of Memphis police beating Tyre Nichols as a lesson on what not to do when dealing with citizens.

Data collection, transparency on the use of force, and additional training for all law enforcement officers are other changes protestors requested.

“Tyre was the fourth person since November that died at the hands of police,” activist LJ Abraham said to the commissioners. “He was just the one who got beat to death so we got to see the video.”

Activists waited five hours at Monday night’s Shelby County Commission meeting to present their Justice for Tyre demands to the 13 commissioners. They want the video of Nichols’ beating to be used in de-escalation training for Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies every 180 days.

Commissioners approved that resolution and said Sheriff Floyd Bonner is on board.

“I had a conversation with the sheriff,” said Commission Chairman Mickell Lowery, “and the sheriff’s response was he will definitely be doing this.”

But after Sheriff Bonner said he never saw the Nichols beating video until the public saw it, and with the employment status of two deputies still in limbo as the sheriff determines why his deputies were at the Jan. 7 scene in Hickory Hill that tragic night, protestors expressed worry.

“I’m very concerned that the sheriff is actually able to oversee his deputies,” said one protestor. “How can the sheriff be accountable if the sheriff isn’t actually aware of what they’re doing?”

And a resolution, they noted, isn’t the strongest stand the commission can take. Activists want to see ordinances passed.

”It has to be turned into an ordinance,” said Alice Miller. “We have to have teeth to this. Gone is the day of platitudes. It’s not enough.”

Commissioner Miska Clay-Bibbs asked the activists for patience.

”We were up against the wall to get this done,” she told them, “but we hear you. I don’t want anyone leaving today thinking we don’t hear you.”

But for those fighting for justice for years now, their patience is wearing thin.

“I don’t want to be pulled over by a cop in a uniform or not a uniform,” said Abraham. “I don’t feel safe... period... dealing with anybody in law enforcement.”

The commission approved two resolutions, both non-binding, that address the activists’ demands.

Commissioner Clay-Bibbs told them she and at least two other commissioners are crafting tougher police reform legislation.

Also Monday night, commissioners approved the county’s federal legislative package. Included in that: a ban on police choke holds, mandated de-escalation training, and the creation of a national registry for police officers who’ve been fired for use of force.

The protestors plan to take their demands to the Memphis City Council on Tuesday.

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