Kamala Harris says: “The act of violence was not in the interests of public safety”

top line

Vice President Kamala Harris and the families of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd — whose deaths at the hands of police in 2020 sparked nationwide protests — attended Tire Nichols’ funeral in Memphis on Wednesday, amid renewed calls for police reform following Nichols’ death.

Important facts

President Joe Biden was not present, although White House assistants Keisha Lance Bottoms and Tara Murray, as well as Biden’s senior adviser Mitch Landrieu and White House director of African American media Erica Loewe traveled to Memphis for the funeral.

Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd – who was killed by Minneapolis police when an officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes after a vendor accused him of using counterfeit money – and Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot while police were searching her Louisville, Kentucky, home, was also there, multiple outlets reported.

Harris, who issued a statement last week calling for an end to the “persistent problem of police misconduct and the use of excessive force” and was reportedly on the phone with Nichols’ mother, was in attendance, according to a White House official, according to CNN.

Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver a eulogy at the funeral, which began at 2:00 p.m. before Nichols’ family bury Nichols.

key background

Five officers from the Memphis Police Department drove past Nichols’ car on the night of Jan. 7 for an allegedly routine traffic stop, although body cameras and surveillance footage released last Friday revealed police used pepper spray and kicked and punched Nichols he was lying on the floor. He died three days after the arrest. In the weeks that followed, all five officers involved were fired from the police department and charged with second-degree murder. The SCORPION unit they were part of – a special unit tasked with fighting crime – was also disbanded after questions were asked about why the special unit was even involved. Another member of the Memphis Police Department was later discharged from the service, although his involvement in the arrest was not disclosed.

Crucial quote

Speaking at the altar, Harris called Nichols’ death an “act of violence to the hands and feet of people charged with protecting them,” and said the “violent act was not in the interests of public safety.” She also called on lawmakers to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which was reinstated earlier this week after Senate Republicans blocked the bill last year over concerns it would limit the qualified immunity afforded to law enforcement officials protects against claims of wrongdoing.


Nichols’ death also sparked protests in Memphis, New York City and Los Angeles, prompting lawmakers to put renewed pressure on law enforcement reforms — despite the reforms facing opposition in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Speaking this week at the Mason Temple in Memphis, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech in 1968, Sharpton pledged to “proceed on Tire’s behalf to set out for Martin’s mountaintop,” saying : “You can’t say anything that could explain what we saw on this videotape.”

Further reading

Tire Nichols’ Death: Footage of Nichols’ deadly spark protests across the country (Forbes)

Tire Nichols Video: Here Are the Key Questions After Posting Shocking Footage (Forbes)

Lawmakers will renew police reform push after Tire Nichols assassination — here’s why negotiations stalled in previous Congress (Forbes)

Tire Nichols Death: What to Know About the Now-Defunct SCORPION Police Unit That Ambushed Him (Forbes)

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