Skip to main content Accessibility

‘Agonizing Moment’: Deadly police beating of Tyre Nichols again demonstrates urgent need to transform law enforcement

The horrific, deadly beating of Tyre Nichols by police is another searing example of the deep legacy of anti-Black racism in law enforcement. While the Memphis Police Department quickly fired the officers involved and the Shelby County district attorney promptly charged the officers with second-degree murder, the fact that this police-led execution happened in the first place – despite departmental reforms – shows how this violent legacy lives on in our nation’s system of policing.

This is an agonizing moment – a moment that no person, no family, no community and no nation should ever be forced to relive. Even amid a national movement demanding an end to police violence against Black people, our leaders have failed to take the transformative action necessary to save Black lives. Enough.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has repeatedly called for a complete reimagining of policing in this country, and we will continue to do so. We will also continue to act in solidarity with impacted communities, partners and movement leaders to liberate ourselves from the brutality of state-sponsored violence against Black people and other communities pushed to the margins.

Leaders at every level must take urgent action to end the culture of anti-Blackness in policing, keep all communities safe and demand accountability until equal justice is a reality for all.

Picture at top: Tyre Nichols, 29, died on Jan. 7, 2023, from injuries sustained during a traffic stop in Memphis, Tennessee. Five Memphis Police Department officers have been charged with second-degree murder. Pictured, a candlelight vigil in memory of Nichols at Tobey Park in Memphis on Jan. 26. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)