Tire Nichols’ Killing Shows That For Some Cops, Even Black Cops, Black Lives Don’t Matter

If you want to understand why so many black people don’t trust the police, why so many of us, when we pass a police car, or are stopped by one, feel our hearts pounding, even though we know we didn’t nothing wrong, and we look at our son in the backseat and tell them to be calm.

If you want to truly understand why so many of us think police officers see us as animals. Like things to be shipped, or strangled, or sent to our deaths after a hail of bullets in our backs or kicks in the sternum. Killed for holding a bag of Skittles or a toy gun or, many times, nothing. If you want to understand why we think cops consider us inferior to white people. Lower than all people. Lower than dirt.

If you want to understand all this, there is one particular part of the horrific hour-long video showing the beating death, or actually, the alleged on-screen murder of Tire Nichols, that you need to focus on.

Nichols, 29, was handcuffed and sat on the ground, moaning in pain and bleeding, after the brutal attack by officers, five of whom would later be charged with second-degree murder. Nichols begins to fall and an officer tells Nichols to sit. There is no sympathy or, at this point, help given. The police are standing and talking as if they just watched the Tennessee Titans game.

Tire Nichols was offered little humanity

Nichols starts falling again. After all, he was badly beaten. And again, there is little humanity shown to Nichols. In fact, he’s actually being mocked by one person on the scene.

The cops in the video act like a gang. They look like goons.

‘Unity of oppression’: Tire Nichols’ Family Lawyer Says SCORPION Drives Target ‘Vulnerable’

Press conference: FBI Director ‘Upset’ By Tire Nichols Traffic Stop Video Involving Memphis Police Department

In that moment, you see how black lives don’t matter to this police. In that moment, you see crystal clear what centuries of dehumanization looks like, what it looks like to see black bodies as less than, and it doesn’t matter if the cops are black. Once some black cops get into that system, they dehumanize themselves too. Blacks, their own people, become the enemy.

At the beginning of the video, a cop says, “I hope they step on his ass.” Street camera video shows a policeman repeatedly kicking Nichols in the head. He also gets hit in the face with some kind of truncheon. Later, Nichols calls his mother.

Protesters gather in Washington, DC on January 27, 2023, after Memphis, Tennessee released police body camera footage of the fatal beating of Tire Nichols.

Protesters gather in Washington, DC on January 27, 2023, after Memphis, Tennessee released police body camera footage of the fatal beating of Tire Nichols.

There are several historical markers in the bloody secular timeline that is the interaction between police and people of color. Some of the more recent ones include the 1991 attack on Rodney King and of course the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

The killing of Nichols will be another of those marks due to the insensitivity and meanness displayed by the officers. We will look back on this moment as one of the ugliest we have experienced as a nation.

“It was obvious to me,” Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis told NBC News on Friday, “that what I saw was beyond the scope of what is condoned in this police department, in any department in I’ve ever worked on before. … Completely next level. Completely outside, you know, humanity. I won’t even say training. I mean humanity.

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Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said he was amazed by what he saw. He told The Commercial Appeal on Friday: “My first emotion was sadness – sadness for Tiro – watching him go through what he was going through. And then a little disbelief. He’s just beyond anything I’ve ever seen. Then he turned into anger that another human being was treated like that.

How did traffic stops become executions?

The killing of Black people at the hands of the police happens everywhere from the West Coast to the East, from the Midwest to the Southwest.

The attack on Nichols was compared to the beating of King. What’s remarkable, however, is that the police who beat King didn’t know they were being filmed. These cops were using body cams. They knew their actions were being recorded and still did so.

How does a traffic block become an execution? For blacks and browns, it does because we are blacks and browns. Why, apparently, do we die for so little? Or not at all? See previous answer.

Police kill too many people during traffic jams: We need to change why stops are made.

A family asked police to help a man struggling with mental illness: Instead they shot him.

There is also no proof (so far) of a traffic violation committed by Nichols. That’s because some cops don’t feel they need it when it comes to us. We are not Americans or fellow citizens. The Constitution is not for us. Rights? We have no rights.

If there’s one thing we must always remember, it’s that Nichols was a person. He was a father. He loved skateboarding. He existed.

It mattered. Black lives do. No matter how much it seems to the police that they don’t.

Mike Freeman is the race and inequality editor for USA TODAY Sports.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tire Nichols Killing Video Shows How Black Lives Don’t Matter To Cops

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