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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

Barack and Michelle Obama Join Calls for Police Reform Amidst Tyre Nichols Outrage

Cities across the country saw protests after the release of the body camera footage.

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Image for article titled Barack and Michelle Obama Join Calls for Police Reform Amidst Tyre Nichols Outrage
Photo: JIM LO SCALZO/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images (AP), Screenshot: AP File (AP)

The videos of Tyre Nichols being brutally beaten by Memphis police officers left the public in shock and disgust. Barack and Michelle Obama joined the nationwide call for police reform in a statement reacting to the footage.

“The vicious, unjustified beating of Tyre Nichols and his ultimate death at the hands of five Memphis police officers is just the latest, painful reminder of how far America still has to go in fixing how we police our streets,” read a tweet from the former President and First Lady.

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President Biden said in a statement he was “outraged” and “deeply pained” to see the video. It was a reminder why he pushed for police reform with the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, though it was signed as an executive order to restrict federal policing. Imagine if that bill had passed on the state level. Would the policing culture of Memphis be any different? Would Tyre still be alive?

According to NBC News, a few Democratic Tennessee lawmakers have taken on the task of introducing their own police reform bill. Rep. Joe Towns Jr., Rep. G.A. Hardaway and House Democratic Caucus Chair John Ray Clemmons plan to address implicit bias training, selective hiring and reevaluation for low-level traffic stops like that of Nichols.

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The officers involved were part of the Scorpion Unit, a division focused on violent crime and making neighborhoods safe. Yet, they pulled over Nichols for a simple traffic stop. As a result of the incident, the Memphis Police Department “permanently deactivated” the unit upon their investigation.

It’s bigger than just de-escalation training, says Police Chief Cerelyn CJ Davis.

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Read more from WREG Memphis:

Friday, Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis told WREG how the unit was supposed to operate.

“The whole idea was to have more visibility be laser-focused on repeat offenders, those individuals we know are committing violent crime in the community,” Davis said.

“Everything about traffic stops. They have all kinds of de-escalation training. We take them off the streets every eight months so they can have a de-escalation moment, have an opportunity to do some retraining,” Davis said.

She says the officers’ actions that led to Nichols’ death showed there was a problem not just with the training, but with the police culture in Memphis.

“You can have all of the ideal policies but if you have a culture that doesn’t have supervision, that doesn’t have adherence to the policies, then you’ve got problems,” Davis said.

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The five offenders managed to bail themselves out of jail, but are awaiting arraignment on Feb. 17, per The Independent.