After Memphis police released video showing Tyre Nichols’ bloody encounter with five officers, some Democrats called the deadly incident an example of racism, despite all involved parties being of the same race.
Memphis officials released the bodycam video as well as nearby surveillance video on Friday night, showing several police officers beating Nichols multiple times.
Officials said that officers stopped Nichols on Jan. 7 for “reckless driving,” adding that a “confrontation occurred during the stop,” which then led to Nichols attempting to run away from the officers.
Five Memphis police officers, all Black, now face murder charges after the death of Tyre Nichols.
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Van Jones, a CNN commentator, wrote in an op-ed that Nichols’ death may have been caused by Black police officers, but may have “still have been driven by racism.”
“Black cops are often socialized in police departments that view certain neighborhoods as war zones. In those departments, few officers get disciplined for dishing out ‘street justice’ in certain precincts — often populated by Black, brown or low-income people — where there is a tacit understanding that the ‘rulebook’ simply doesn’t apply,” Van Jones said. “Cops of all colors, including Black police officers, internalize those messages — and sometimes act on them.”
Jemele Hill, a writer for The Atlantic, tweeted that the “entire system” of policing is based on White supremacy.
“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,” Hill wrote.
Rep. Maxwell Frost, D-Fla., said in a now-deleted tweet that Nichols’ death is a “result of white supremacy.”
“Doesn’t matter what color those police officers are,” Frost said. “The murder of Tyre Nichols is anti-Black and the result of white supremacy.”
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Former Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., also appeared to state that racism had a factor in Nichols’ death.
“If you think the Memphis police officers had to be white in order to exhibit anti-Blackness, you need to take that AP African American Studies course Ron DeSantis just banned,” Jones tweeted.
Filmmaker Bree Newsome said on Twitter that racism is embedded in policing.
“Diversifying the police force doesn’t end racism because racism is inherent to the organization of the institution & its daily operation. Racism is what policing is,” she said.
When officers caught up with Nichols, another confrontation occurred, according to officials, which left Nichols complaining about a shortness of breath.
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“While attempting to take the suspect into custody, another confrontation occurred; however, the suspect was ultimately apprehended,” MPD said. “Afterward the suspect complained of having shortness of breath, at which point an ambulance was called to the scene.”
Nichols was transported to St. Francis Hospital in critical condition, but died on Jan. 10, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
“I didn’t do anything,” Nichols can be heard saying over the body camera video while officers yanked him out of the car during the traffic stop.
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One body camera video released by police shows officers using pepper spray and another using a baton.
“Watch out, I’ma baton the f— out you,” one officer says.
Officers can be seen punching, kicking, and striking Nichols with the baton several times.
Fox News’ Michael Ruiz and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.