By Riley Dauber
Opinion Section Editor
Twenty-nine-year-old Tyre Nichols was trying to get home on Jan. 7 when he was randomly stopped by a group of police officers.
According to AP News, Nichols was pulled out of his car and beaten by the officers.
“I’m just trying to go home,” Nichols said.
Nichols died in the hospital three days later, but it was not until Jan. 27 that the authorities released the body camera footage of the attack. The five police officers allegedly responsible for his death were fired and charged with second-degree murder, according to The Guardian.
This recent example of police brutality has many calling for police reform in the United States.
The death of George Floyd in May 2020 sparked these necessary conversations about police brutality, and ever since, the continuous killings of innocent Black people have only proven the need for police reform and increased legislature.
At Nichols’ funeral on Feb. 1, his mother, RowVaughn Wells, urged Congress to reintroduce and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to prevent further deaths.
“We need to take some action because there should be no other child that should suffer the way my son – and all the other parents here have lost their children – we need to get that bill passed. Because if we don’t, that blood – the next child that dies, that blood is going to be on their hands,” Wells said.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was introduced in June 2020 when it passed in the House. According to The Guardian, “The legislation would ban federal law enforcement officers from using chokeholds like the one that ended Floyd’s life, and it would require state and local police departments that receive federal funding to adopt the same policy.”
The act would also “[provide] officers with body cameras, [establish] anti-discrimination programs, and [mitigate] the use of deadly force,” according to The Guardian.
Since the police officers allegedly responsible for Nichols’ death were wearing body cameras, it was reportedly easier to determine what happened and who committed the crime.
One could argue that a police officer would feel less inclined to enact such brutal acts of violence if they knew they were being watched. By making each officer wear a body camera, it may prevent any unjust decisions; or, if an officer made a wrong move, the crime would be recorded as evidence.
While the body cameras helped identify the suspects in the Nichols case, they obviously did not prevent this instance of police brutality. Moving forward, legislation needs to focus on increased training and resources.
According to the Nichols family’s attorney Ben Crump, Congress may try to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act again following Nichols’ death. However, it is unlikely to pass considering the House is Republican-controlled.
At President Joseph Biden’s State of the Union Address on Feb. 7, Nichols’ family was invited to the White House, where Biden addressed the recent situation.
“What happened to Tyre in Memphis happens too often. We have to do better,” President Biden said. “We can’t turn away. Let’s do what we know in our hearts, what we need to do. Let’s come together to finish the job on police reform. Do something.”
Biden can make plenty of statements about why we need to address the issue of police brutality, but the necessary step is taking action. Although it does not have a high chance of passing in Congress, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act should be reintroduced and passed to prevent future acts of violence.
Biden also mentioned “increasing resources to reduce violent crime and gun crime, community intervention programs and investments in housing, education, and job training,” according to ABC News.
To solve such a prevalent issue that is rooted in this country’s history, Biden and Congress need to overlook their party differences and work together to pass the bill and implement programs and resources to keep communities safe.
“We demand that Congress pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Joe Biden will sign it. We should not delay, and we shall not be denied. It is non-negotiable,” Vice President Kamala Harris said at Nichols’ funeral.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Photo Caption: The death of twenty-nine-year-old Tyre Nichols has many calling for police reform in the United States.