On January 7, Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was pulled over by Memphis police for supposed “reckless driving.” RowVaughn Wells, Tyre’s mother, said he was coming home from his job at Fed Ex and was two minutes away. Within moments of stopping him, five Memphis pigs surrounded Tyre. They began to beat him mercilessly. These killers, all members of an “elite” police unit called The Scorpions, continued clubbing, kicking, tasing, and pepper spraying Tyre for three minutes.
Tyre’s family’s lawyer, who saw a police body-cam video of the beating, said, “What he was in that [video] was defenseless the entire time. He was a human piñata for those police officers. It was unadulterated, unabashed, nonstop beating of this young boy for three minutes.” Tyre asked, over and over, as he was being brutalized by the cops, “What did I do?” What he did was be a young Black man, driving through a part of town the Memphis Police Department designates as “high-crime.” And that got him a death sentence from these pigs.
Listen, really listen, to the anguish and anger in the voices of Tyre Nichols’s parents.
RowVaughn Wells, who also was shown some of the body-cam video, told reporters, “Once the video started and I heard my son's voice, I lost it. I couldn't stay in the room. All I heard him say was, what did I do? And once I heard that, I lost it.”
The Police murder of Tyre Nichols in Memphis. Four videos released by the City of Memphis, January 27, 2023. (Video 2 contains graphic images of the beating.)
Rodney Wells, Tyre’s stepfather, said, “Our son ran because he was scared for his life. He did not run because he was trying to get rid of no drugs, no gun, no any of that. He ran because he was scared for his life. And when you see the video, you will see why he was scared for his life.… They handcuffed him and set him, propped him up on the car. And as he fell over they’d tell him ‘sit back up.’ You know, and he would slump back over again and they would make him sit back up. They never rendered any aid.”
Three days later after this pack of murderous cops stopped and brutalized him, Tyre Nichols died.
It took 11 days after Tyre Nichols was beaten before the federal government announced an investigation; 13 days before the cops were fired from their jobs; and 19 days before the pigs were arrested and charged with murder. Videos from the cops’ body cams still haven’t been released as of this writing. These pigs are among the few across the country who are ever charged for the murders they commit. This system lets killer cops walk time after time – they are doing their job, defending a system that allows them – encourages them – to brutalize and kill people, knowing they will rarely be punished, that their crimes will be covered up by district attorneys, and that the media will repeat whatever it’s told.
A little less than three years ago, millions of people rose up in beautiful protests against police brutality and murder in cities and towns across the country. Different schemes were proposed as an answer to the case after case of police brutality and murder that plague this country, especially targeting Black, Brown, and Native American youth. Schemes like hiring more people of color, and more women, to be police. Like having all cops wear body cams.
In Memphis, a Black woman is the chief of police. The five pigs who killed Tyre Nichols are Black, as is about 58% of the Memphis Police Department. Memphis police are taught “de-escalation strategies” and told to “intervene” if they saw their fellow cops using “excessive force.”
Ask yourself this: How many Black and other oppressed people have been killed by murdering cops in one city after another, just since the protests of 2020, and the “reforms” many police departments initiated? Here’s part of the answer: “Police killed the highest number of people on record in 2022.” At the beginning of this year, three men murdered by the Los Angeles police within three days. In Houston, three people were run over and killed in the first three weeks of the year by cops speeding through the streets on their way to alleged crime scenes. Those are just some examples, from just two cities.
And Tyre Nichols is dead.
Murder, brutality, repression, imprisonment, injustice against Black and other oppressed people at every turn—this has been going on for centuries! It is a cornerstone of this system of capitalism-imperialism that exploits and oppresses people across the world, and is destroying the planet itself. And how many of the people killed have found justice from a system for whom the lives and humanity of Black people mean absolutely nothing? How long has this system carried out exploitation, outrage and mayhem against Black and other oppressed people, here and around the world?
How long? Way too long. It is crucial to fight for justice for Tyre Nichols, and not to stop until it’s won. But unless and until we make revolution—unless and until we overthrow this system… unless and until we defeat and dismantle their armed forces of repression and violence… this same shit, along with all the other horrors this system brings down, will go on. And on. And on.
We need a revolution—an actual revolution. The leader of the revolution, Bob Avakian, says:
…We have two choices: either, live with all this—and condemn future generations to the same, or worse, if they have a future at all…
STOP Genocidal Persecution, Mass Incarceration, Police Brutality and Murder of Black and Brown People!
Watch these clips from Bob Avakian on the role of the police under this system, and the people’s security after the revolution.
Bob Avakian on the role of the police
Bob Avakian on the People's Security After the Revolution
Editors’ Note, January 28—Friday evening, Memphis authorities released four videos of the heinous police torture-murder of Tyre Nichols. Although these videos are painful to watch, gut-wrenching, and infuriating, we cannot look away. They need to be watched by everyone in order to fully come to grips with what has happened—and what continues to happen in one form or another on a daily basis: the savage brutalization and killing of Black, Brown and Native American people at the hands of police.
We believe that the article above (posted on Thursday) goes to the heart of the matter: HOW LONG will this go on, and WHAT MUST BE DONE TO PUT AN END TO IT, once and for all. So we urge people to read or reread and reflect seriously on this article now, in light of the videos.
As the videos give a fuller picture of what happened than we had on Thursday, we want to note and clarify some things not fully captured in our initial article.
- Tyre was clearly unarmed and not a threat of any kind to the pigs.
- There were two incidents of the police torture of Tyre (not just one as indicated in the opening of our Thursday article). First, Tyre was pulled over, immediately surrounded by a gang of screaming pigs, forced to the ground, pepper sprayed and seemingly tazed. Clearly terrified, Tyre managed to escape from this lynch mob, but was eventually recaptured. At that point, in a second attack, pigs spent three full minutes beating and kicking Tyre, who was physically restrained and not resisting, as Tyre called out repeatedly for his mom, who lived less than a hundred yards away.
- Even after they had gravely injured Tyre, the cops did nothing to treat his injuries or even make him comfortable. Instead, they stood around chatting—including making up stories to justify their attack on Tyre, like saying that they initially approached him politely, when the video shows that Tyre was under attack from the very start.
- It took 22 minutes for an EMS ambulance to arrive, and even then, video shows EMTs standing around chatting for several minutes before aiding Tyre.
People around the U.S. and the world are still processing these horrendous images, feeling the horror that Tyre went through, and that his family and loved ones will never fully escape. Many people are already in the streets protesting—as they should be. And many are grappling and arguing over crucial questions, including why this keeps happening and how to end it.
We will address all of this more fully this weekend.