Mourners call for end to police violence at Tyre Nichols funeral

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Mourners celebrated the life of Tyre Nichols, whose death at the hands of police led to second-degree murder charges against five officers, Reuters reports. This is the latest death of a Black man caused by police violence in the U.S. 

The relatives of Black people killed by police in cities across the U.S. came to Nichols’ funeral in a Memphis church to offer comfort to the family of the Black 29-year-old, CNN reports.

Civil rights leaders and family members also called for an end to recurring police violence against Black Americans. 

They addressed a congregation that included relatives of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, two Black Americans whose deaths at the hands of police sparked nationwide, and international, protests in 2020.

Vice President Kamala Harris attended the funeral and spoke before the congregation. 

“’This violent act was not in pursuit of public safety,” Harris said. “When we talk about public safety, let us understand what it means in its truest form. Tyre Nichols should have been safe.” 

Harris called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Policing Act, which would combat police violence, racial profiling, and excessive force by police officers.

Key speakers also included Reverend Al Sharpton and civil rights attorney Ben Crump. In attendance was also Spike Lee. 

Sharpton, in a painfully familiar role, delivered an impassioned eulogy that paid tribute to Nichols’ life and served as a clarion call for justice.

The reverend invoked Martin Luther King’s 1968 “Mountaintop” speech in Memphis, where King said he had reached the peak and seen the Promised Land. 

The former cops accused of killing Nichols, he said, failed to live up to that legacy. “He expected you to bring us on to the Promised Land,” Sharpton said.

Crump said the incident was a “police lynching.”

Civil rights advocates and lawyers for Nichols’ family have condemned the beating as the latest case of a Black person brutalized by a racially biased law enforcement system that disproportionately targets people of color, even when officers involved are not white.

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