January 2023: a new year, a new month.
And yet, again we watched in horror the brutal murder by law enforcement officers of another innocent Black man in the United States of America. The details are sadly familiar but not any less sickening or appalling. We send our sincere condolences to Tyre’s family and friends. May his memory be a blessing.
In this case, there’s been unusual sanity shown by the prompt firing of the police officers involved, followed by their subsequent criminal charges. Also unusual is how other law enforcement officers have stepped up to decry the not-uncommon behavior of these officers. Even the involved officers’ own organization, the Memphis Police Association, stated that it is “committed to the administration of justice and never condones the mistreatment of any citizen nor any abuse of power.”
Other mainstream institutions have chimed in, including the New York Times. The paper optimistically reported that there is a “shift in handling police violence.”
We deeply wish that this is the start of a shift in the delivery of justice, especially with respect to Black and Brown communities in this country. It is worth noting that the five officers involved in Tyre Nichols’ death are Black. Their actions were heinous and their firings and indictments laudable. While these decisions will not erase the pain and loss of the Nichols’ family, we applaud the swiftness of the legal process.
We also should question if the case would have been handled in the same manner if the officers involved had been white. History has demonstrated evidence to the contrary. Still, we hope that, with what we witnessed, time will truly tell that there is a “shift” and that ANY police officer — white or Black — involved in the atrocious treatment of any citizen or any egregious abuse of power in dealing with a civilian in this country will face a similar process as these five officers.
Let’s make sure that in light of delivering justice, white police officers should not continue to unjustly benefit from the privilege of being white. Let’s continue to build momentum toward recognizing the humanity of all human beings and accountability among all police officers.
This local small group of yoga/coffee ladies is seven women from diverse cultural, religious and professional backgrounds who have been meeting weekly for the past 13 years to support each other and discuss current social events.
Read more of the Feb. 8-14, 2023 issue.