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Protests erupt across US after video of Tyre Nichols’s fatal beating is released – follow live

Biden spoke with Tyre Nichols’s parents

Joe Biden spoke with the parents of Tyre Nichols, according to the Washington Post.

The paper released a brief clip of the conversation, where the president mentions how Nichols’ father is “devastated” by the death of his son, and invokes his own experience of losing a child:

🚨President Biden just called Tyre Nichols’ parents. He talked to them for more than 10 minutes.
“He actually tattooed my name on his arm,” his mom told Biden.

“That’s what you call something special,” Biden replied.

We were in the room for the call. Here’s a snippet.

— Emily Davies (@ELaserDavies) January 27, 2023

Earlier, the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said Biden had been briefed on the video of Nichols’ beating that will be released later today, but has not seen it:

.@PressSec on Tyre Nichols video expected to be released tonight says @POTUS has “been briefed, but he has not seen the video, nor has anyone at the White House seen the video.”

— Allie Raffa (@AllieRaffa) January 27, 2023

Key events

‘He had a beautiful soul’: Tyre Nichols’s parents reflect on the son who was taken from them

Richard Luscombe

Tyre Nichols, the latest in a long line of young American Black men whose death is tied to the police, was a “beautiful soul” and home-loving son with his mother’s name tattooed on his arm, his family and friends have said.

Described as “a momma’s boy” by his mother, RowVaughn Wells, the 29-year-old Memphis, Tennessee, resident, the youngest of four children, was also a father himself. He leaves a four-year-old boy whom he loved to teach skateboarding.

“You’ve got to put that skateboard down. You’ve got a full-time job now,” Nichols’s stepfather Rodney Wells recalled telling Nichols during a press conference this week.

“He looked at me like, ‘Yeah, right,’ because that was his passion.”

Friends at the Tobey skate park in Memphis held a candlelit vigil for Nichols on Thursday evening.

The job, Wells said, was as a shift employee at FedEx for the last nine months, but home was never far from his mind even as he was working. He would come home every evening, mid-shift, for his meal break, RowVaughn Wells said.

She believes that’s what he was doing on the night he was stopped and killed by five Memphis police officers. “He was trying to get home to safety,” she told CNN on Friday.

Read more:

Two sheriff deputies on scene have been ‘relieved of duty’

The sheriff of Shelby county, Tennessee has announced that two deputies who were at the scene after Tyre Nichols was beaten have been “relieved of duty”.

In a statement, sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr said he watched video of the beating for the first time tonight, and has “concerns” about the deputies’ conduct. Bonner did not say why he was concerned or describe the deputies’ conduct.

The office is launching an internal investigation, Bonner said.

Images of Tyre Nichols being beaten have drawn comparisons to Rodney King’s 1991 beating.

King, who was brutally attacked by Los Angeles police department officers, barely survived. His daughter, Lora Dene King, spoke at a viewing of the footage released by the Memphis police today.

“I’m sorry that we’re still in the same place, more than 30 years later,” she said.

Los Angeles erupted after the officers who beat King were acquitted.

Earlier, Lora Dene King told NBC: “People wonder where the anger comes from, this is where. If you see someone time and time again, who looks like you, your dad, your brother, how would you feel? It’s a pattern and we’re still here.”

Lora Dene King, daughter of Rodney King, spoke in Los Angeles during a viewing of the videos showing the beating of Tyre Nichols. Photograph: Allison Dinner/Reuters

In New York’s Times Square, protestors have gathered with chants and signs.

And so have police officers. Reporters on the ground say some protestors have been detained.

A group of protestors, some with raised fists, march through a brightly lit street in Times Square.
People protest in Times Square. Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters
Protestors in New York’s Times Square. Silhouettes of protestors against a screen showing an American flag. One protestor’s fist is raised.
Protestors in New York’s Times Square. Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters
Officers in uniform are photographed amid proestors.
Police officers deployed at the Times Square protest. Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

As the Guardian reported in 2020, during a wave of protests following the police killing of George Floyd, police arrested, detained and attacked protestors. Amid warnings that the protests tonight could boil over, activists – including Reverend Earle Fisher below – have pointed out that police are often the aggressors when violence breaks out at demonstrations.

Body camera footage, released this evening, caught an officer saying, “I hope they stomp his ass. I hope they stomp his ass,” as he and others chased down Nichols

Earlier, the officers warn that Nichols will get “blown out”.

Nichols’s family’s legal team has said an independent autopsy found he “suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating”.

Some of the most chilling moments in the videos capture the officers tying their shoes, and helping each other clean the pepper spray from each others’ eyes after beating Nichols.

“He was a human piñata for those police officers,” said Antonio Romanucci, an attorney for the family. “Not only was it violent, it was savage.”

Protestors are gathering across the US to protest police brutality.

HAPPENING NOW: protest in Asheville following the release of Tyre Nichols arrest.

The 29-year-old died three days after his arrest.

Tonight the Memphis police department released body camera footage. @WLOS_13

— Samiar Nefzi (@samiarnefzitv) January 28, 2023

In California, Stevante Clark, whose brother Stephon Clark was killed by police in 2018 while standing in his grandmother’s back yard, is leading the march in Sacramento, California.

This is Stevante Clark reprising a role He has had many times in the past, leading a march around the California state Capitol to protest, the death of another black man. This time, he is protesting the death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, a former Sacramento resident.

— Sam Stanton is also on Mastadon and Post (@StantonSam) January 28, 2023

Reverend Earle Fisher, the senior pastor of Abyssinian Missionary Baptist Church in Memphis, spoke with PBS about the grief, anxiety and shock that people in the city are processing.

“I trust the poise and the passion of the people,” he said, as protestors take to the streets.

That the officers are facing consequences is a result of protests and advocacy in recent years, he added. “This is the byproduct of several years of righteous advocacy,” he said.

But the brutality inflected on Nichols is part of larger systemic failures in the police system. “This is not isolated, it’s connected,” Fisher said.

Protestors gather in Memphis

Protestors have blocked the bridge connecting I-55 bridge between Memphis, Tennessee and West Memphis, Arkansas.

The Interstate 55 Bridge, connecting Tennessee to Arkansas, is at a standstill after demonstrators in Memphis have gathered under the bridge to protest police brutality. They are chanting #TyreNichols name.

— Alex Caprariello (@alcaprari23) January 28, 2023

“How many more Black men will have to beg for their mother? She will carry that for the rest of her life” one organizer says.

Protestors are now occupying the I-55 bridge between Memphis, TN and West Memphis, AR.

— MLK50: Justice Through Journalism (@MLK50Memphis) January 28, 2023

President Biden has released an official statement now that the footage has been released.

“Like so many, I was outraged and deeply pained to see the horrific video of the beating that resulted in Tyre Nichols’s death,” the president said. “We must do everything in our power to ensure our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment and dignity for all. ”

Here are his comments in-full:

Like so many, I was outraged and deeply pained to see the horrific video of the beating that resulted in Tyre Nichols’ death. It is yet another painful reminder of the profound fear and trauma, the pain, and the exhaustion that Black and Brown Americans experience every single day.

My heart goes out to Tyre Nichols’s family and to Americans in Memphis and across the country who are grieving this tremendously painful loss. The footage that was released this evening will leave people justifiably outraged. Those who seek justice should not resort to violence or destruction. Violence is never acceptable; it is illegal and destructive. I join Mr Nichols’s family in calling for peaceful protest.

I spoke with RowVaughn Wells and Rodney Wells, Mr Nichols’s mother and stepfather, this afternoon. There are no words to describe the heartbreak and grief of losing a beloved child and young father. Nothing can bring Mr Nichols back to his family and the Memphis community. But Mr and Mrs Wells, Mr Nichols’s son, and his whole family deserve a swift, full and transparent investigation.

We must do everything in our power to ensure our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment and dignity for all. Real and lasting change will only come if we take action to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again. That is why I called on Congress to send the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to my desk. When Senate Republicans blocked that bill, I signed an executive order that mandated stricter use of force standards and accountability provisions for federal law enforcement, as well as measures to strengthen accountability at the state and local level.

Content warning: below is a description of the graphic footage released by Memphis police today of the events that led to Tyre Nichols’s death.

In the third video Nichols can be heard shrieking, again calling out to his mother. Several officers then mull about – more than the five charged in the incident – as Nichols remains on the ground, leaned against a car, talking to one another about the incident.

The fourth video, footage from a mounted camera, shows a clearer shot of Nichols being beaten from above, without audio.

Three officers appear to be holding onto him. Nichols is repeatedly kicked in the head and face, while he is on the ground.

A fourth officer comes into the frame and extends a baton, before hitting him in the head and face, repeatedly. The other officers continue to hold onto him. A fifth officer is seen kicking him again.

After the beating, Nichols, handcuffed, is left on the wet pavement before one officer drags him to an unmarked car and props him against it.

Five officers then stand around him until more arrive at the scene. At one point, Nichols can be seen slumping and falling over.

Content warning: below is a description of the graphic footage released by Memphis police today of the events that led to Tyre Nichols’s death.

The disturbing video footage, which was released in several parts, sheds light on the fatal events. In one video, which is from a police body camera, Nichols can be heard crying out “mom” as he was on the ground with officers surrounding him. Some of the chaotic footage shows officers punching and kicking Nichols. One officer shouted that he would “baton the fuck outta of you”.

In the first clip of four, Nichols appears calm after he is ripped from his car, telling the five officers that they are doing a lot and that he is already on the ground. Nichols is then seen breaking away and running, shortly after the officers attempt to tase him.

The second shows the moments after officers catch up with him. He is quickly pepper sprayed. Nichols can be heard screaming for his mom – who lived nearby – while the officers scream at him to give them his hands. Multiple officers appear to be holding Nichols as another beats him.

Memphis police release footage of deadly traffic stop

The footage of the brutal beating has been released, showing the incidents that led to Tyre Nichols’ death.

Federal prosecutors appear to be launching a criminal inquiry into the campaign finances of Republican George Santos, according the Washington Post.

Citing anonymous sources, the Post outlined how the justice department asked the Federal Election Commission to provide relevant documents and also postpone any enforcement actions against Santos while the investigation moves forward. Santos and his attorney reportedly did not respond to requests for comment and both justice department and FEC spokespeople declined to comment.

From the Post:

The 34-year-old congressman, whose election to Congress from Long Island last year helped the GOP secure its narrow House majority, has apologized for what he called “résumé embellishment” while rebuffing calls for his resignation.

Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday interviewed two people about Santos’s role in Harbor City Capital, an investment firm that was forced to shut down in 2021 after the SEC accused it of operating a “classic Ponzi scheme.” SEC interest in those people came after they were quoted Wednesday in The Washington Post describing how Santos solicited an investment in Harbor City at an Italian restaurant in Queens in late 2020.”

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, chair of the Senate judiciary committee, released a statement calling for “critical reforms” in the wake of Tyre Nichols’ death, but also asked for demonstrations – expected across the country tonight – to remain peaceful.

Here is his statement in full:

“My thoughts are w/ Tyre Nichols’ family & the Memphis community. As those who were blessed to call Mr. Nichols family, friend, or neighbor mourn, we must commit to pursuing justice for his death, which feels all too familiar for far too many Americans, especially Black Americans.

His killing is a violation of the social contract between law enforcement & the people they are sworn to protect—& people are rightfully demanding accountability, corrective action, & justice. I join Mr. Nichols’ family and President Biden in asking for demonstrations to remain peaceful.

We must support the efforts of authorities as they continue their investigation. And elected officials must continue taking steps to create a justice system that is truly equal for all. I’m committed to working w/ Senator Booker and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to finally achieve critical reforms.”

Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr, told the Black community that they should not feel obliged to watch the Tyre Nichols footage once it gets released later today.

In a tweet on Friday, King wrote:

“You don’t have to watch the video of #TyreNichols being beaten by police. You don’t have to subject yourself to that trauma.

It should not require another video of a Black human being dehumanized for anyone to understand that police brutality is an urgent, devastating issue,” she added.

Dr Bernice A King, daughter of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dr Bernice A King, daughter of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr in Atlanta, Georgia. Photograph: Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Businesses in downtown Memphis have started to board up their store fronts in anticipation of protests as Memphis police prepares to release footage of Tyre Nichols later tonight.

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