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Protesters demand justice in US after video shows killer police

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The five officers charged with Tyre Nichols’ murder are black, showing that brutality is intrinsic to the police, reports Sophie Squire
Issue 2840
Protesters against police brutality in the US

Protesters in Boston, Massachusetts, after the police killing of Tyre Nichols. deyre Nichols. Demonstrators later marched around the Boston Common and passed the Massachusetts State Capitol Building. (Picture: Alamy/ Vincent Ricci/SOPA Images)

Furious protests have erupted across the US after Memphis police finally released footage of their officers beating Tyre Nichols to death. Officers dragged Nichols from his car and beat, kicked, pepper-sprayed and tasered Nichols after stopping him 7 January. He died three days after the attack.

The video also shows one officer holding up Nichols so that another could hit him in the face. Nichol’s family say the assault caused several of his organs to fail. All five of the officers have been fired from their jobs and charged with second-degree murder, assault, kidnapping, misconduct and official oppression. 

Most of the cops involved in the killing were part of Memphis police’s Scorpion unit, which stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in our Neighbourhoods. The “elite unit” was set up to police areas in the city that were deemed crime hot spots. But civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, said that these units quickly turn into “a pack of wolves.” 

Under pressure, the Memphis police department last Saturday announced that it would disband the Scorpion squad. The following day protesters marched through the city still ­chanting, “No justice, no peace.” One demonstrator held a ­placard that read “Voting blue is not enough”, referring to the Democratic party that runs the city administration. 

In New York hundreds of ­protesters had marched to Time Square. There were also demonstrations in Portland, Atlanta and Boston. In Los Angeles protesters held a candlelit vigil for Nichols as well as Manuel Teran. Police killed Teran while he was defending the Weelaunee Forest from ­developers building a giant police training centre. They also remembered Keenan Anderson, a black man who was killed by Los Angeles cops last month.

Police ­surrounded the small vigil and pointed grenade launchers at them. The murder of Tyre Nichols shows that racism and class hatred permeates the police at every level. And despite five cops being charged with Nichol’s murder, it’s not enough to just hold these ­officers accountable.

As soon as cops begin their training they are taught to hold working class people in contempt. And this comes with ­rampant racism. Cops see black people as ­criminals, dehumanising them in ways designed to justify brutal policing and violence. This racism filters through to every police officer, whether white or black.

And every cop by nature of their role is united in defending and holding up the bosses’ racist and violent system. That means that putting more black police officers on the streets won’t stop racist police savagery. The only way to stop this is to abolish them.

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