Video of young man killed by police sparks protests
The release of a video showing the beating to death of young black man Tire Nichols, 29, by five police officers in Memphis, Tennessee, triggered protests in several cities across the United States on Friday night (27). /01), including New York, Atlanta, Washington DC and Detroit.
In Memphis, hundreds of people blocked traffic on a freeway, demanding to speak with City Mayor Jim Strickland and Police Department Chief Cerelyn Davis.
On January 7, Nichols was pulled over by police officers claiming a traffic violation. He died three days later in a hospital from injuries sustained from the beatings.
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The images, shown in prime time by the country’s main television channels, were captured by surveillance cameras and by cameras attached to the police uniforms. In them, it is possible to see how the agents attacked Nichols for several minutes with kicks, including in the head, punched him and hit him with a bat, even when he no longer showed any sign that he could fight back.
At one point, after Nichols has risen to his feet, an officer hits him again with at least five heavy blows, while another holds his hands behind his back.
Lawyers for the victim’s family compared the recordings to the Rodney King case: the black driver was beaten with sticks and kicked by police in Los Angeles in 1991, an action that was caught at the time by an amateur cameraman. Unlike Nichols, he survived.
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After watching the video, US President Joe Biden said he was “outraged” and appealed to people not to resort to violence to express their “justifiable” anger.
“Anyone who wants justice must not resort to violence or destruction,” he said, appealing for the protests over Nichols’s death to be peaceful.
The five officers involved in the Nichols beating, all black, were fired from the police department and face multiple charges, including murder, for which state law carries sentences of 15 to 60 years in prison.
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The former police officers are also accused of aggravated bodily harm, aggravated kidnapping, police misconduct and official oppression. The five are aged between 24 and 32 and have worked in the police for periods ranging from two and a half years to five years.
Police in the US have been accused by human rights organizations of disproportionate use of violence against the black population in the country. Nearly a third of all people killed by police in the U.S. in 2021 were African Americans, despite the fact that they make up only 13% of the country’s population.
One of the most repercussion cases was the death of 46-year-old George Floyd in 2020, after police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his neck with his knee for nine and a half minutes, with the connivance of colleagues, while the afro -American kept repeating that he couldn’t breathe. Floyd was suspected of using a counterfeit $20 bill to pay for a purchase.
The video of the episode caused worldwide consternation and started a wave of protests against racism, boosting the Black Lives Matter movement (black lives matter).