Influential civil rights activist Al Sharpton says America’s quest for police accountability follows the swift arrest and firing of five officers charged in the death of Tire Nichols With “New Clock”.
Speaking at a rally in Harlem, New York, the Reverend Sharpton also dismissed the notion that the police beat Mr Nichols to death for no racial reason but simply because they were black.
it happened after memphis police Published body camera footage Officers are shown beating the 29-year-old for three minutes while shouting obscenities at him throughout the attack.
Warning: This article contains violent images
Five officers have been charged with second-degree murder and other offenses in Mr Nichols’ death, including battery, kidnapping, officer misconduct and officer oppression.
The officers were also fired by Memphis Police Department Chief Serene Davis, who became the force’s first black female boss in 2021, after an internal investigation found they used excessive force or failed to intervene.
Rev. Sharpton, speaking at a weekly National Action Network rally, said: “So now there’s a new precedent because this black female police chief is now screwing you — because she said I didn’t wait — to arrest them, fire them.
“You now have a new appreciation for police accountability. We don’t want to hear about an investigation that hasn’t been a year.”
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Speaking about race, he said: “One person said it well to me, at least it’s not about race.
“I say race partly because those black people think they can lay their hands on a black person and get away with it.
“You know you can’t get away with doing that to a white guy in Tennessee — and you’re not going to get away with doing it to a black guy.”
Meanwhile, at a city leadership news conference on Saturday, state Representative Joe Towns Jr echoed Reverend Sharpton’s comments about the police’s swift action to investigate its officers.
He also said Police Commissioner Davies had his full support, praising her “swift action”.
Police released four separate videos on Saturday, edited into one-hour segments, including police body camera footage and CCTV footage of the assault on Mr Nichols.
In the video, Mr Nichols can be heard screaming “Mummy, Mummy” several times during the beating. According to his mother, he was 80 yards (73 meters) from home.
Before the video footage was made public, Police Chief Davis asked for calm.
“I hope you feel what the Nichols family felt,” she said. “I want you to be outraged by the disregard for basic human rights.”
Protests are underway in at least nine U.S. cities — including Memphis — after body camera footage was released.
Mr Nichols’ mother, Row Vaughn Wells, had earlier warned supporters of the “horrific” nature of the video but pleaded for peace, saying “tearing up the streets” was “not what my son stands for”.
U.S. President Joe Biden said he was “outraged and deeply pained to see the horrific video of the beating that led to Till Nichols’ death.”
“This is yet another painful reminder of the profound fear and trauma, pain and exhaustion that Black and brown people in America experience every day,” he added.