Ms. RowVaughn Wells, Tyre Nichols mother is experiencing what no mother should ever experience. An unfathomable pain. Tyre Nichols called out for his mom as he was being violently murdered by 5 members of the Memphis police department. Officers punched, kicked, and crushed Tyre Nichols with batons, while they sprayed him with pepper spray. Tyre Nichols was murdered 80 yards away from his home. While Tyre called out for his mom, officers continued to beat him.
Tyre Nichols did everything Black mothers teach our children to do, if in an encounter with the police: be calm, comply, be respectful. Tyre asked the police, “What did I do?” The police kept brutalizing him. The talk won’t save us, or our children.
Tonight the world listened to Tyre Nichols call out for his mom, call out for humanity, call out in agony. Police reform is long over due, the color of the officer behind the badge does not remove the severity of violence for the person in front of the badge…especially when that person is Black. If Tyre were white, the Black officers would not have violently beat him – they would have seen a human being in a white person. They would have seen consequences in brutalizing a white 29 year old man. The culture of policing provides no space to see Black people as human beings. Not even by Black officers, which compounds the pain. Tyre Nichols was violently murdered by police in a traffic stop police initiated and escalated. We have to reform policing, change laws, and hold cops accountable across the board.
This is heavy, heartbreakingly heavy. But, we can’t look away with tear stained faces or angry hearts. Don’t look away from the hard to watch video. Don’t look away from the horrific images. Don’t look away from the painful history of slave catchers becoming police departments. Don’t look away from the country’s history of slave patrols becoming police patrols. Don’t look away from a mother’s pain. Don’t look way from Tyre Nichols.
Somehow Ms. RowVaughn Wells is exhibiting humanity and grace. Ms. RowVaughn Wells shared that her son Tyre was on his way to take in a sunset, when he was pulled over by police. Tyre loved sunsets and photographed sunsets often. Tyre loved his mother, he had her name tattooed on his arm. Tyre was a dad and loved his son. Tyre was a skateboarder – he had been skateboarding since he was six years old. Tyre’s friends remember him as funny, goofy, and kind. The love and wisdom of Ms. RowVaughn is overwhelming.