Fear, rage, and continuing injustice


The killing, this month, of Tyre Nichols by police in Memphis is the latest reminder that the dominate-or-die impulse persists among some rank-and-file officers. Body-camera and surveillance videos released on Friday by the the city of Memphis show that a cluster of officers appear to have beaten Nichols to death merely for defying their orders: commands like “Get on the ground,” “Lie flat, goddammit,” and “Give me your fucking hands.”

No evidence has yet emerged showing any justification for the police to have stopped Nichols, a twenty-nine-year-old FedEx worker and aspiring photographer with a four-year-old son. Nor does it appear that the officers gave him much reason for pulling him over. “Any charges on him?,” a police operator asked over a radio in one video. There was no answer from the officers in the field. The police reports described his offense as “reckless driving.”

Fear far too often drives the reckless action of police. Too often we are so ready to “back the blue” because they “feared for their lives.” This is a case where they were dominant and were taking on a far weaker man with no threat to them at all.

They got mad because Tyre Nichols ran from them. That’s it. When they had him handcuffed they beat him for at least three minutes.

Tough guys. Manly men. Real policing.

The Memphis police had created an “elite” unit to “fight crime” and allow these officers to act in rage simply because they felt slighted when a guy smaller than them tried to run from their beating.

Too many officers are trained to fear and act accordingly. We are a culture built on fear and rage and we continue to refuse to get to the root of our deepest problems.

More HERE.

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