Tyre Nichols’ tragic death raises questions about whether the conflict between black men and law enforcement is more due to racism than attitude.
Nichols, a 29-year-old Memphis man, was killed 17 days ago in an altercation with five Memphis police officers. The public is expected to see the video footage from that encounter today. The body camera footage is reminiscent of the Rodney King tape, according to those who have seen it.
King, of course, was brutally beaten by Los Angeles police officers in 1991 at the conclusion of a long police chase. King survived. The city of Los Angeles nearly didn’t. The 1992 acquittal of the officers who beat King set off six days of violent rioting in Los Angeles that left 63 people dead and more than 2,000 people injured. It took the Marines, Army, and National Guard to stop the rioting in Los Angeles.
Memphis could see similar violence this weekend. The Tyre Nichols video could even spark national rioting. Nichols could become George Floyd 2.0.
CNN sent Don Lemon to Memphis in order to fuel the fires. Cerelyn Davis is Memphis’ chief police officer. She is trying to promote unrest. Multiple interviews she’s done are, in my opinion, aimed at increasing anger and hostility.
Don Lemon was told by her, “You’re going see acts of defiance humanity.”
According to reports, Nichols fled after a routine traffic stop. For seven minutes, police chased Nichols and/or searched him. Then they beat him up for three more minutes.
Five police officers were fired and charged with second-degree murder. The five officers, all young black men, are similar to Nichols. The oldest officer in the group is 32. The youngest officer is 24.
Cerelyn Davis is a black police chief. Michael Rallings was her predecessor. Toney Armstrong, his predecessor, was also a black man.
Memphis is home to 65% of the black population. It is plagued by a disturbing pattern of black men killing one another.
The story of Tyre Nichols is a different one than that of Rodney King. King was black. The four officers who tried to assault King were all white. The Rodney King case was framed by corporate media as a case of racism-fueled police misconduct.
Maybe there is a common factor in police violence cases. Perhaps the right narrative should focus on attitude and frustration. Maybe resistance can lead to lethal frustration in law enforcement.
Perhaps people of all colors who don’t resist the orders and authority of law enforcement never get angry at the police.
I will add some context. I understand the pain of the Tyre Nichols family. My cousin Anton Butler was tasered by Indianapolis sheriffs in storming rain in 2012. They claimed that he refused to be arrested and used their Tasers.
I helped raise Anton. I helped Anton grow up. When they were young, he, his brother, and cousins spent summers in Kansas City with me. Anton was my best friend. I paid for Anton’s funeral. I think the sheriffs were too aggressive.
I believe Anton also made a mistake in resisting their orders.
Policing can be a stressful and frustrating job. It is a mistake for police officers to feel more stressed and frustrated. It can cause them to explode.
As a man, my safety is my primary responsibility. The government is not. My attitude towards law enforcement is to decrease stress. Numerous times I have been stopped for speeding. My behavior has resulted in many warning tickets, but no violence.
Too many young black men are programmed to fear and hate the police. This creates fear and hatred, which in turn leads to frustration.