Tyre Nichols: another innocent Black man’s life stolen

Students+and+faculty+gather+at+the+labyrinth+by+Estherwood+to+exchange+words+of+sorrow.

Xavier Rolston

Students and faculty gather at the labyrinth by Estherwood to exchange words of sorrow.

Gisele Cestaro, News Lead Editor

Tyre Nichols, a young father with a four-year-old son, was brutally beaten to death by five police officers at a traffic stop in Memphis, Tennesse on Jan. 7th. After three days in the hospital, he passed away on Jan.10th from critical injuries including severe internal bleeding. The incident started when he was pulled over for alleged reckless driving as a motorist, although he had never been in trouble with the law before. Police detained Nichols after a confrontation took place where he attempted to run away from the officers. When they apprehended him, the five men physically beat Nichols by using batons and pepper spray until he screamed for his mother. 

Nichols was 29 years old when the attack took place. His family described him as a loving young man who was creative, loved sunsets, and skateboarding. On weekends he would go to the city park, and wait for the sun to set so he could capture a photo. He was on his way home to the house he shared with his mother and stepfather when he was stopped and assaulted.  Nichols was the youngest of his family by twelve years, but still incredibly close to them, as he had his mother’s name tattooed on his arm. 

Before the confrontation became violent, the officers demanded Nichols lie on the ground, while two of the men constrained his arms. They were screaming tasks such as to “lie down” but he couldn’t comply because the officers were holding him up straight. They proceeded to spray him with an irritant, and when Tyre was released for a brief second he ran from the tasers that were firing at him. The five officers caught up to Nichols while he was less than eighty yards from his home. 

The ambulance took twenty-two minutes to arrive while Nichols was left leaning against the police car. From the footage, it was clear that the paramedics were indifferent to Nichols’s injuries, as they were chatting with the officers. He was then taken to St.Francis Hospital which was a fifteen-minute drive from his current location. 

Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith were fired after the investigation team found they had violated department conduct by using extreme force. On Thursday, Jan 26th, all five police officers were charged with second-degree murder, meaning that the killing was not premeditated. The district attorney brought charges against the men within twenty days, making sure they are held accountable. 

Nichols’ story has raised national attention quickly due to the brutality and nature of the case. His mother, RowVaughn Wells, put together a fundraiser for his memorial service with the initial goal of $10,000, but it has surpassed over $1 million dollars in two days. The goal was to raise money for mental health services and a memorial skate park. 

What keeps me hopeful is seeing some of the young Black men in this community, and other communities around me, walk with their heads held high. They know they have a place in this society and that they are going to achieve great things

— Roland Davis

Masters held a vigil to honor Nichols at the labyrinth in front of Estherwood on Jan.31st. Students and faculty gathered around the labyrinth, holding candles, while words of sorrow were spoken.

Zahali Vauclena, senior co-chair, spoke about his reaction to the vigil and the support of the community members. “Growing up as a Black man, there’s a lot of mistrust with the government and policing. But just having this support system, with people you can trust, that acknowledge what is going on in the world, is so important,” he said. 

Vauclena also shared his hopes for the future: to live in a world where future generations don’t have to deal with injustice. “Being a power for good is what I strive for, and it’s what everyone should strive for in their community,” he said. 

Roland Davis, associate head of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) commented on his dismay about the violence that has surrounded our country. He reiterated how important it is to be aware of the ongoing issue. “I think having that sense of awareness, about the issue of violence that is perpetrated against brown and Black bodies, and not walking through the world with blinders on if you’re privileged enough to not have to worry about that sort of thing,” he said. 

In order to encourage one another to be hopeful despite the difficulty, Davis mentioned how imperative it is to show commitment and support. “What keeps me hopeful is seeing some of the young Black men in this community, and other communities around me, walk with their heads held high. They know they have a place in this society and that they are going to achieve great things,” he said.