MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The death of Tyre Nichols has renewed discussions about the treatment of minorities during encounters with law enforcement. It’s a disparity that has many calling for reform.
The calls for changes are sounding across Memphis after Nichols’ death.
“All I know is my son, Tyre, is not here with me anymore. He will never walk through that door again. He will never come in and say hello parents,” said his mother Rowvaugh Wells.
This is a reality for Nichols’ family after the 29-year-old died three days after being hospitalized after he was beaten by Memphis police officers during a traffic stop.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents the family, says Nichols’ death highlights issues within law enforcement. All of the officers fired for their involvement are African-American.
“It is not the race of the police officer that is the determinable factor of the amount of excessive force that would be exerted. It is the race of the citizen,” said Crump.
Crump, like many other activists, believes that for far too long, people of color have been treated differently by law enforcement and it’s having a negative effect.
“We gotta have equal justice, equal policing. If we don’t, we’re going to continue to see this happen over and over again,” he said.
It’s something that Van Turner, president of the NAACP Memphis chapter, has spent time looking into and believes perception plays a big reason why.
“So much of what’s portrayed, as far as we see, is that of young black men and women being the face of crime or being the face of what’s going wrong in the community,” he said.
Turner says it’s important that folks understand this is bigger than race.
“No matter the race of, actually the young man or those officers, wrong is wrong and justice needs to prevail,” he said.
As of now, none of the officers involved are facing criminal charges. It’s something that could change pending the outcome of multiple investigations.