Speed Reads

Rest in peace

Thousands mourn as Tyre Nichols is laid to rest in Memphis

Speaking to mourners gathered for the funeral of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee, Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act she had co-authored as a senator, saying, "We should not delay, and we will not be denied." 

"It is non-negotiable," Harris continued, after calling Nichols' death at the hands of five Memphis police officers a "violent act ... not in pursuit of public safety." 

"One must ask: Was it not in the interest of keeping the public safe that Tyre Nichols would be with us here today?" Harris asked, eliciting applause from the congregation of mourners, which included Nichols' family, attorney Ben Crump, and Rev. Al Sharpton. 

Nichols, 29, was killed in early January, following a traffic stop in which five members of the Memphis Police Department beat him as he lay on the ground. He died several days later in the hospital. Nichols was Black, as were all five of the officers directly involved in his death. 

"You don't fight crime by becoming criminals yourself," Sharpton said during his eulogy. "You don't stand up to thugs in the street becoming thugs yourself. You don't fight gangs by becoming five armed men against an unarmed man. That ain't the police. That's punks."

Sharpton also pointedly noted that no matter the color of the officers' skin, Nichols' death was still a product of racism, saying, "If that man had been white, [the police] wouldn't have beat him like that."

The program for Nichols' funeral prominently featured a number of photographs he'd taken during his lifetime as an aspiring photographer. "People have a story to tell," read a quote from Nichols, overlaid on top of one of his pictures. "Why not capture it [in pictures] instead of doing the 'norm' and writing it down or speaking it?"

Nichols' sister, Keyana Dixon, also addressed the crowd, drawing a connection between the man who in death has become a symbol of social and racial justice, and the boy she knew as a child. "I see the world showing him love and fighting for his justice," Dixon said. "But all I want is my baby brother back."