With the city of Memphis bracing for violence this weekend after the release of an explosive video showing the brutal beating of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols who died after his encounter with five police officers during a traffic stop earlier this month, black residents reacted to the shocking incident with some expressing the view that officers of color would commonly use more force against members of their own race than white cops.
Angry mobs took to the streets to protest on Friday after the graphic footage exploded across traditional and social media as officials were gripped by fears of national unrest similar to that which erupted during the summer of 2020 when the drug-addicted felon George Floyd met an untimely demise at the hands of Minneapolis cops being arrested, leading to riots and looting from sea to shining sea.
One Memphis resident, 48-year-old William Jones recalled that when he was a teenager, that officers would respond to complaints by white neighbors about pickup football games by inflicting physical punishment upon the participants.
“And a lot of times, it was the black officers who beat us worse than white officers,” Jones, a high-security government worker told NBC News.
“I was not surprised at all,” Jones said of the cops’ fatal confrontation with Nichols. “Some of these officers get behind their badge, and they forget who they came from. They really believe in blue lives matter. Some of these Black officers are good guys that came from rough neighborhoods, too. But I have seen some of them take that power — lots of them — and misuse it. They didn’t come to my neighborhood and pull no cats out of trees. They came over when we were little boys, 13, 14 years old, and roughed us up. And for no reason.”
(Video: The Daily Mail)
“I can’t be surprised because it’s a predominantly Black part of town with Black officers patrolling,” Barbara Johnson, a 75-year-old grandmother told NBC News. “The relationship with Black people and the police is not very good. Black or white officers, it’s us against them. There’s this mistrust. Period.”
Nichols was pulled over on the night of night of January 7 and appeared to resist being arrested and was subsequently pummeled by the five officers, sending him to the hospital where he would later die from his injuries. The officers were all fired and face charges for their roles in the tragic incident, including murder.
(Image: Screengrab/The Daily Mail)
Brian Harris, a 44-year-old who is running for a city council seat in the district where the incident took place, told the outlet that the relationship between Memphis’ community of color and the cops has been deteriorating with the beating of Nichols likely to make matters worse.
“I’ve seen it shift over the years,” he said. “And that shift has come in part because policies have been relaxed as far as the officers we onboard. A couple of years ago, they dropped the 60 hours of college credit requirement down to just having a high school diploma, which changed the dynamics of those coming in. That was due to recruiting purposes.”
“Still, I have never seen anything like this. When it comes to Memphis and Black officers and Black-on-Black confrontations …this is totally new,” Harris added. “But if you look at the history of Memphis and race relations, we’re oppressed, especially Black men. And to know that Black officers who took an oath to protect and serve turned on their own people … it’s just unacceptable, shocking and disappointing.”
Todd Harris, a 25-year-old Memphis resident who works in the banking industry told NBC News that he was informed of the news of Nichols’ death by a friend who is a cop before it went public.
“I was kind of surprised because being beaten to death is so extreme,” he said. “That’s more intentional than shooting the person. But I was even more surprised that he was beaten to death by five Black men.”
School board member and activist Frank Johnson conjured up a familiar demon.
“White supremacy has always had Black faces to carry out their deeds,” he said. “The only reason we know Tyre’s name now is because the activists in this city would not let his name go. There’s a whole lot of stuff going around saying how our police department got it right. No, they didn’t. They had to be forced to do this.”
Jones said that many residents of color believe that if the officers who beat Nichols had been white, that no case would have been brought against them.
“No way,” he said. “That’s the history of Memphis. And that comment goes back to a lack of trust of cops, Black or white.”
“Beating that man to death is a breach of trust — and just one more reason for there to be angst between the minority population and the police department,” Todd Harris added.
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