Government officials are calling for calm ahead of the planned nationwide protests over the Tyre Nichols bodycam footage, which will be released tonight, as the Georgia governor activated 1,000 National Guard troops and Capitol Hill amped up security.
Many cities, including Memphis and New York City, are gearing up to protest after the gruesome footage, which has been described as worse than Rodney King, on the Memphis Police Department’s YouTube page at 7pm. Police are releasing the footage later a night to allow people to get home beforehand.
Nichols, 29, was brutally beaten like a ‘human piñata’ by five Memphis, Tennessee, police officers, who were all African American, on January 7 and died three days later in the hospital from kidney failure and cardiac arrest.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, 59, has declared a state of emergency until Tuesday, February 9. Kemp called in the National Guard following an anti-cop protest last weekend in Atlanta after an environmental activist died and said Georgia is ‘closely monitoring the events in Memphis.’
Capitol Hill also amped up security in anticipation of widespread protests. President Joe Biden, 80, has called for calm ahead of the video release and said Nichols’ death is a ‘painful reminder’ that the US’ justice system has seen many ‘fatal encounters with law enforcement [that] have disparately impacted black and brown people.’
Tyre Nichols, 29, was brutally beaten like a ‘human piñata’ by five Memphis, Tennessee, police officers , who were all African American, on January 7 and died three days later in the hospital from kidney failure and cardiac arrest
The bodycam footage of his January 7 interaction with five Memphis police officers will be released tonight at 7pm on the department’s YouTube page
‘To deliver real change, we must have accountability when law enforcement officers violate their oaths, and we need to build lasting trust between law enforcement, the vast majority of whom wear the badge honorably, and the communities they are sworn to serve and protect,’ the president said.
‘As Americans grieve, the Department of Justice conducts its investigation, and state authorities continue their work, I join Tyre’s family in calling for peaceful protest,’ the president continued. ‘Outrage is understandable, but violence is never acceptable. Violence is destructive and against the law. It has no place in peaceful protests seeking justice.’
New York City Mayor Eric Adams, 62, encouraged New Yorkers to ‘peacefully voice their concern if the video is what we anticipate it to be.’ A gathering in Times Square called Justice for Tyre Nichols has already been scheduled for 7pm, Adams said.
The five officers – Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith – have been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of official misconduct, and official oppression. Four out of the five have also been released from custody on a combined $1million bond.
The bodycam footage has been withheld since the attack to ensure justice and over fears widespread riots will start. The footage, which has been viewed by the family, shows Nichols being shocked, pepper sprayed, and restrained after the 29-year-old FedEx worker was pulled over minutes away from his home.
Family members and activists are already warning to not let children watch the bodycam footage when it is released as it is ‘absolutely appalling,’ according to Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch.
Protests are expected to take place after the footage will be released, which Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said was the worst footage she’s ever witnessed in her career and that it worse than Rodney King, who was beaten by the LAPD in 1991.
Ahead of its release, several government officials have called for calm and peaceful protests. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, 59, (pictured) declared a statement of emergency until February 9 after Atlanta experienced an anti-cop protest last week and could experience more following the Nichols video
President Joe Biden, 80, (pictured) also also called for calm and said Nichols’ death is a ‘painful reminder’ that the US’ justice system has seen many ‘fatal encounters with law enforcement [that] have disparately impacted black and brown people’
Capitol Hill (pictured) has also amped up security as the nation braces for several protests
‘We are going to see acts that defy humanity, a disregard for life, duty of care and a level of physical interaction that is above and beyond what is required in law enforcement,’ King said on Friday morning.
As national unrest could break out, Georgia and Capitol Hill have ramped up security measures to protect its citizens.
‘We are closely monitoring the events in Memphis and are prepared to support peaceful protests in our city,’ Atlanta police told CBS News. ‘We understand and share in the outrage surrounding the death of Tyre Nichols.
‘Police officers are expected to conduct themselves in a compassionate, competent, and constitutional manner and these officers failed Tyre, their communities and their profession. We ask that demonstrations be safe and peaceful.’
The governor’s emergency order said the state ‘respects peaceful protests, but do not tolerate acts of violence against persons or property.’
A Thursday night memorial in Memphis (pictured) honored Nichols and his mother RowVaughn Wells told those gathered to ‘protest in peace’ Friday evening and to avoid ‘tear up our cities, people, because we do have to live in them’
Over the weekend, masked protesters threw rocks, launched fireworks, and burned a police vehicle outside the Atlanta Police Federation building after activist Manuel Esteban Paez Teran, who is reportedly apart of far-left group Antifa, was shot and killed during a protest against a new police training facility in Atlanta, according to Fox News.
Protesters had dubbed Atlanta ‘cop city’ and called for a ‘night of rage’ after the police-involved incident.
In Memphis, Nichol’s mother RowVaughn Wells told those gathered at a memorial for her son on Thursday night to protest peacefully.
‘When that tape comes out tomorrow, it’s going to be horrific,’ Wells told the crowd. ‘I didn’t see it, but from what I hear, it’s going to be horrific. But I want each and every one of you to protest in peace.
‘I don’t want us burning up our cities, tearing up the streets, because that’s not what my son stood for,’ she continued. ‘And if you guys are here for me and Tyre, then you will protest peacefully. You can get your point across, but we don’t need to tear up our cities, people, because we do have to live in them.’
All the officers, who were hired between 2017 and 2020, and face multiple charges, including second-degree murder (pictured L-R: Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith)
Wells had admitted previously she couldn’t make it through the whole video of her son’s violent beating, but other family members have watched it before its public release.
Fellow skateboarders showed up to the memorial to honor Nichols, who was an avid skateboarder himself, on Thursday. His longtime friend Angelina Paxton said skateboarding in California – where Nichols is from – was a way to escape gang culture.
Now Memphis skateboarders are planning to honor and show up for Nichols.
‘Find a good way to stake,’ Josh Adams said at the vigil, according to the Commercial Appeal. ‘Get into some good trouble out there.’
Another skateboarder, Luke Sexton, said: ‘I know that Tyre had just been in the city not a long time, so he really didn’t time to establish an amount of friends and build a community that is here, and we just really wanted to show his mom that skaters do care about skaters.’
Nichols had moved to Memphis in February 2020 after his friends convinced him to start fresh.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS IN NICHOLS’ DEATH
January 7: Police pull over Tyre Nichols on suspicion of reckless driving at 8.30pm. Tyre fled on foot after a ‘confrontation’ but was apprehended by cops soon after.
An ambulance was called to the scene after Tyre complained of shortness of breath, and was transferred to hospital in a critical condition.
January 10: Three days after the stop Tyre, 29, died from his injuries sustained in the incident. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced that they were looking into his death.
January 15: Five officers are relieved of duty while the investigation into their use of force continues. Preliminary findings indicate the serious nature of the offences. All of the officers were given a notice regarding the impeding administrative actions.
January 18: The Department of Justice announces that a civil rights investigation has been opened into the death of Tyre.
January 20: Memphis Police Department identifies, and fires five offices involved in the traffic stop, due to their violation of multiple department polices.
Officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr, and Justin Smith’s jobs were terminated for failing in their ‘excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid’.
Two Memphis Fire Department employees who were part of Nichols’ ‘initial patient care’ were also fired.
January 23: The family of Tyre Nichols and their attorney, Ben Crump, view the footage of his arrest for the first time. Crump compares it to the assault of Rodney King by LAPD officers in 1991.
January 26: All five officers are charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two charges of aggravated kidnapping, two charges of official misconduct and one charge of official oppression.
January 27: Four of the former officers each paid bond of $250,000 each to be released after their arrest.