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The Memphis community reacts to Tyre Nichols’ death

As the city of Memphis prepares tonight to release the footage that captured the fatal beating, The community is also preparing for protests.
Posted at 6:41 PM, Jan 27, 2023

A mother’s heartbreak echoes through the halls of Mt. Olive Cathedral in Memphis.  

"This was not supposed to happen. My son was supposed to be with me today," said Tyre's mom, RowVaughn Wells.

The city is on edge awaiting the release today of the traffic stop video of Nichols.  

Nichols’ friends and family, say tonight will be one of the toughest the city has ever faced, but they repeated this plea: "we want peace. We don’t want any type of war or disturbance," said his step father, Rodney Wells. 

Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the Nichols’ family, likened the footage to the 1991 beating of Rodney King — which set off a wave of violent protests across Los Angeles. 

David Rausch, the head of Tennessee’s Bureau of Investigation, warned the images will be disturbing. 

"I'm grieved, frankly I'm shocked, I'm sickened by what I saw," he said.  

During a press conference Thursday Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy called for justice.  

"The world is watching us and we need to show the world what lessons we can learn from this tragedy," Mulroy said.  

Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner told one local news outlet they are coordinating with Memphis Police to have more visibility on the ground, but are not preparing for violent protests.  

Memphis Police set to release video of Tyre Nichols confrontation

Memphis Police set to release video of Tyre Nichols confrontation

Nichols died Jan. 10, three days after a confrontation with five Memphis Police officers. The officers have since been fired and charged in his death.


Some business owners are closing up early in anticipation.  

Activists like Hunter Demster, who helped organized a vigil for Nichols’ Wednesday night, say the community is tired of empty promises on police reform.  

He believes the best way to make an impact is to disrupt everything from business to the interstate — until legislation is passed. 

But that doesn’t mean protesters will be violent.  

"We're not talking about destroying anything. We're talking about disruption. The violence comes when the police show up and that that's the unknown," Demster said. 

For other community organizers like Amber Sherman, she hopes Tyre’s untimely death will be the last one at the hands of police.  

"Over and over and over again people are literally violently murdered in the city of Memphis. And the city answers back by adding more police officers, by adding more task forces. Not this time," said Amber Sherman, a local activist. 

The Nichols’ attorneys are now calling on the police chief to disband the SCORPION unit — the one that stopped Nichols that night — effective immediately.  

Five former Memphis officers charged in beating death of Tyre Nichols

Five former Memphis officers charged in beating death of Tyre Nichols

All five are charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.