Tyre Nichols should be the last, not more of the norm


Kendal Manns, Editor-in-Chief

On Feb. 1, the late Tyre Nichols was laid to rest. The 29-year-old was murdered by five police officers in Memphis, Tennessee, on Jan. 10. This senseless act of violence was followed by a beautiful service, but it should not have happened.
Nowadays it can be quite difficult to avoid seeing footage or headlines of another Black man or woman being assaulted or killed by police officers. As if that was not jarring and depressing enough, many times those same officers are not given the punishment that they truly deserve.
Let us put this into a more raw perspective. According to LAPDonline.org, the responsibility of a police officer is to “protect and serve.” Past responsibilities aside, that remains the overall purpose of police to this day. Yet it appears that the motto is simply a bunch of words. The police officers that murdered Nichols were not protecting and serving anything or anyone. Same for those that murdered George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner and so many more.
In my opinion, a police officer’s power comes from two things: fear and impunity. When you are driving in your car down the highway and you see a police car on the side of the road, you slow down in fear of getting a ticket. If you see one in your neighborhood, you can tend to be more conscientious of your actions in fear of sparking any issues. The principle of harm is meant to keep civilians in line, but when used in the wrong way can cause them to be fearful.
When the fear is on the other end with the police officers, they can do things that seem irrational. Shooting without using the proper judgment. Using the overly aggressive force. Not waiting for something to become a threat before proceeding. All of these things have been done by officers in the name of “self-defense.” We have all heard the famous line “I feared for my life” used as justification for the senseless killing of Black people.
Impunity comes into play when police abuse their status and power to mistreat, harass and even kill those they are meant to protect and nothing happens to them. Far too many times we see those responsible for the loss of Black life get a “slap on the wrist.” Being put on paid leave. Simply being fired but not persecuted. Those are just a few of the ways that officers get dealt with. The funny thing is if they were not protected by the badge, they would not get off so easily. With all this being said, do you still trust the police to “protect and serve?”
Nichols did not deserve to die. His parents did not deserve to have to mourn the death of their child. His siblings should not have to live in a world without their beloved brother. It is not fair. The pain that those five officers caused can never be taken back. They have ruined lives and induced trauma in so many. The sad part is this continues to happen.
We as a world are in this constant cycle. A life is taken due to police brutality and abuse of power. There is nationwide(sometimes worldwide) mourning that sparks activism, like protests. Governments respond by providing the cities with heavy police presence and sometimes even the National Guard. Protesting ends and even some legislation may be written in an attempt to solve issues. Songs are written. Art is made. Weeks then months go by, and the news coverage stops. It is like nothing happened until another Black life is taken.
This cycle is an indictment of the lack of accountability and commitment to change in this country. Much like police officers, America is held to a very high standard. With the nation viewing itself as superior to every other, it has to treat its people better. The Black lives that are lost have to mean something. The impact of their losses must be seen in our government. In the way that we fund resources in our communities. In how we treat those who have sworn an oath to protect and serve. Otherwise, how are we any better than any other country?
Police officers need to be held accountable for the loss of Black life. If legislation is not passed like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would “ban chokeholds and end qualified immunity for law enforcement,” is not passed then these senseless acts will continue to happen. Tyre Nichols needs to be the last, not just another name in the long list of Black trauma at the hands of our “protectors.”