MEMPHIS, Tenn. — While we await the release of video from the night of the traffic stop that led to Tyre Nichols’ death and word on any criminal charges against the five officers involved, Memphians at the forefront of justice are taking a stand.
On Wednesday, we spoke with the executive director of the NAACP Memphis branch about this case being in the national spotlight and the organization’s role in helping right any wrongs.
Vickie Terry leads the NAACP Memphis branch at a time when justice and civil rights in the city are once again questioned on the national stage.
“The NAACP’s role is to make sure that everyone is treated equally,” she said.
Terry has been engaged with many of the parties involved, including Nichols’ family, since his death.
“Whatever their needs are, we’re going to try to make sure that we just support the family and just be there,” she said. “A mother myself having a son and I just can’t even imagine the heartache she’s going through.”
Terry even spoke to Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis. We asked her to describe how the conversation went.
“She was horrified. I mean, she was hurt because this is her department,” she said.
Terry said she’d hoped Memphis would be able to escape this kind of publicity over police violence. What hurt her even more, she says, was the officers involved are Black.
“The horrific act that was displayed against Tyre Nichols, that was horrible and for it to be African-Americans, I think it hurt worse to me because this is your brother. You’ve seen a lot of these things happen across the country and then you participate in something as horrific as this,” she said.
She said the NAACP has not sanctioned any protests or marches in response to Nichols’ death. She has heard of other groups planning to do so. Her hope is if they do protest, it will be peaceful.
“Just to make sure we do it peacefully and in order and I think the family asks that also. If there are protests that we do peaceful protests,” she said.
Terry said the NAACP will be active in pushing for reforms in policies and procedures that might prevent future excessive use of force cases and deaths. She believes that’s where real change is needed.