Five Black police officers are currently up on second degree murder charges over the killing of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, US. However, reports are starting to emerge that a white police officer was also involved – and that it was him that hit Tyre with the initial taser. Yet so far, this cop has not faced any consequences – and people are starting to ask questions.
Tyre Nichols: killing sparks protest
As Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported, police killed Tyre after beating him repeatedly following a traffic stop. He died on 10 January, three days after cops initially stopped him on suspicion of reckless driving. Authorities have fired five police officers and charged them all with second degree murder. Memphis authorities released the graphic bodycam footage of officers repeatedly attacking the 29-year-old as he moans and calls out for his mother.
His death and the subsequent details sparked protests in Memphis, Washington, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and a handful of other cities:
In addition to second-degree murder charges, the police officers are facing indictments for aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping.
There’s been a lot of talk on social media over the fact the five officers that killed Tyre were Black. However, as people pointed out on Twitter, this is how white supremacy works:
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were y’all sitting there yelling “all cops are bastards” and “fuck the police” thinking we only meant the white ones…?
— 🎧 (@ramoumaaa) January 29, 2023
The fact that not a single white body has to be present for white supremacy to maintain itself isn't common knowledge is absolutely tragic and by design.
— Don’t watch me. Watch my films. (@NotNikyatu) January 27, 2023
However, reports are now emerging that a sixth officer who was involved in Tyre’s killing was white – and authorities have done nothing so far about the role he played.
First, Memphis councillor JB Smiley Jr pointed out on Twitter that one officer had not been charged yet:
The officer who tased #TyreNichols and who compelled the other officers to stomp him must be fired. We must put an end to the culture that allows excessive force and assumes it is commonplace. pic.twitter.com/xXKUXb05F6
— JB Smiley, Jr., Esq. (@jbsmileyjr) January 28, 2023
At that time, no details of this sixth officer were public. However, on 29 January, reports started emerging on Twitter that this was the officer who initially stopped Tyre – and he was white:
It appears #TyreNichols was initially stopped by a male White officer who has 👉🏾not been identified.👈🏾 When he is stopped, it appears he is snatched out of the car by a male Black officer and pepper sprayed
— Danny D. Glover (@DannyDGlover) January 29, 2023
This led political organiser Amber Sherman to delve deeper, alleging she knew who the cop was:
This is Preston Hemphill. Detective Hemphill is named in the affidavit as having deployed his taser. He’s 26, born in July 1996. He needs to be charged accordingly for his part of contributing to Tyre Nichols being murdered. Notice the Apple Watch in both pictures..same band. pic.twitter.com/erNmaqgrDG
— A is for Afro (@Amberisms_) January 29, 2023
There was a white officer that was tasing my son and we don’t understand how come his name was not put out there or mentioned in this whole fiasco
The fact authorities immediately charged the five Black cops shows that, even though the police is a white supremacist institution, if you’re white it will still protect you more – as one Twitter user pointed out:
Preston Hemphill (R) was the officer that tased Tyre Nichols, playing a contributing role to his murder.
He wasn’t arrested, charged or fired unlike the other five Black cops.
— AHUS (@AmericaHatesUs) January 30, 2023
Overall, though, Tyre’s killing isn’t about the skin colour of cops. Ultimately, the police as an institution is a white supremacist one. As author Wil Gafney said on Twitter:
Whiteness enslaves. Whiteness corrupts. Whiteness consumes. Whiteness kills. Those five black police officers were executing white supremacist policing in the service of whiteness; whiteness which happily receives their service, but not their persons. They could easily be next.
— Part-Time Kauai Girl (@WilGafney) January 26, 2023
Writer Jemele Hill said similar:
I need so many people to understand this regarding Tyre Nichols. Several of the police officers who murdered Freddie Gray were Black. The entire system of policing is based on white supremacist violence. We see people under the boot of oppression carry its water all the time. https://t.co/H11cuzHPxC
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) January 27, 2023
Meanwhile, the police killing of Tyre has sparked people to call once again for defunding or abolition of the police. As artist and activist Bree Newsome Bass said:
The establishment would’ve done better to make major concessions after George Floyd because I think the Tyre Nichols case has now moved a lot of people from reform to abolition.
— Bree Newsome Bass (@BreeNewsome) January 29, 2023
Abolitionism, especially around the police, is not just about the police – contrary to what some people might say. Joshua P Hill summed this up well:
The problem isn't only police killings. Police protect fascists who harass abortion clinics, and attack folks who demand affordable housing, or climate action, or go on strike. This is what policing is, this is why abolition is vital to a better world. 🧵https://t.co/fs9ZtRy2E6
— Read Jackson Rising by @CooperationJXN (@JoshuaPHilll) January 28, 2023
Regardless of ethnicity or race, it was police officers that killed Tyre Nichols. And it was institutional white supremacy that took his life – as it does every time police in the US kill Black and brown people.
Featured image, additional images and additional reporting via Agence France-PresseSupport us and go ad-free
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