The Hundreds Who Will Follow Tyre Nichols

As there always are, there will be apologists who will try to explain away a murder. They didn’t mean to kill him, but only beat him to a pulp to show him who’s boss? He should have complied harder and then they wouldn’t have killed him? Don’t lie to yourself.

Tyre Nichols ran because his options were try to survive or die. When that’s the only option given a person, he has every right to try to survive. No one is going to willingly sacrifice his life to you whatever sick compulsion you have to use your force for whatever twisted needs of power you suffer.

Many will go on about what was wrong here, and it was everything. From the needlessly violent initiation of the stop to the conflicting screaming to the escalation of force to the criminal beating. And all this in Memphis, where they’ve tried to change cop culture so that this doesn’t happen. Yet it did. And that some of these enforcers of the law stood by as their “brothers” murdered a human being and did nothing is the disgrace of the “good” cop who complains that he didn’t do the beating. But he didn’t stop the beating. Who else but a cop is supposed to protect Tyre Nichols from being murdered on the street?

This murder, this video of a murder, will send a new shock wave across the country that should strike fear in the heart of every cop. The next stop you make, this will be what the guy has in his head. He will be thinking that you’re going to kill him. He will be thinking that if he does nothing, if he complies, if he behaves the way you command him to behave, you’re going to kill him anyway.

What does he have to lose?

He doesn’t want to die any more than you do.

This isn’t his fault. This is the fault of five cops in Memphis. This is the fault of a thousand cops everywhere. This is the fault of ten thousand cops who let those cops inflict harm without doing anything to stop them, who lie to cover up their crime. Memphis gave its cops the training so many pretend will fix this problem, and it failed because no one can train someone not to be violent monster against their fellow human being. No one can train a cop to not stand there as they watch a fellow human being murdered before their eyes.

This is the fault of every cop who didn’t change the culture of fear and loathing of “mutts” and “skels” who are presumed to deserve a beating, for this or something else, because you know who the bad dudes are. This is the fault of every older cop who trains the n00bs how to survive on the street by beating or shooting “them” first so the First Rule of Policing prevails and they make it home for dinner, even if the “perp” goes home in a box.

Expect violence. Expect non-compliance. Expect someone to get hurt, and expect that’s going to be a cop when that guy you stopped believes he’s about to be murdered and he doesn’t plan to die that day. You brought this on yourself.

You could have changed this. You still can change this. You can tell the brass who the violent cops are who enjoy the beating too much. You can stop your “brothers” from committing crimes against their fellow citizens. You can take a breath when the guy pisses you off and act like a cop instead of a thug. You can approach your fellow citizens with the assumption of respect rather than fear or anger.

It will take time and there will be many in law enforcement who refuse to accept that they are the problem, their culture is the problem. They will make the usual excuses, tell themselves the usual lies, that no one understands their job, no one appreciates the risks they take, the pressure they’re under. There was no risk here. There was no pressure here. There was just a murder and there was no excuse, none, for Tyre Nichols to be beaten to death.

Remember, when the guy you stop believes he either fights back or dies like Tyre Nichols, cops brought this on themselves. You made this problem. Only you can fix it. If you can’t do it for the sake of honor, for the sake of your fellow human beings, then do it for yourself.

12 thoughts on “The Hundreds Who Will Follow Tyre Nichols

  1. Paleo

    It’s a good thing the goons at Police One made their board private so I won’t be tempted to go over there and elevate my blood pressure to an unhealthy level.

    And ultimately you can’t change human nature, as you point out. And a whole lot of people don’t care to try, or are too hung up in their narratives to see what to do. The “just comply” bunch can’t understand the problem with cops being taught control techniques without being taught deescalation techniques. The other side won’t admit that it’s much more about power and control than it is about race, so a murder committed on video by black cops overseen by a black administration in a majority city is still white supremacy.

    We don’t put serious, capable people in charge of things and we don’t have serious, honest people telling us about things. Like you I’m not hopeful that this will ever change. We just need to hope that us and ours don’t get struck by the lightning.

    1. SHG Post author

      I anticipate the majority of voices will do everything possible to squeeze this into the race narrative, though I’ve already seen a few “toxic masculinity” feminists try to seize the narrative.

  2. Ray

    The brass should know who the violent cops are among their police force. What training are sergeants, lieutenants and captains getting in spotting the clues to problem cops? You have to get rid of the problem officers while they are in the training academy and while they are still probationary officers. The clues are there early on, but I suspect get overlooked. The other problem is the difficulty in removing tenured cops. The police unions have too much say in the process and even when someone gets terminated there is a sign ant likely hood that the arbitration board orders them back to duty (and the courts have a difficult time setting aside arbitration awards). These cases are just not ordinary labor disputes when they concern excessive force. This is an overlooked area in need of major reform. I’m guessing, just a guess mind you, that as more is learned about these five perpetrators we are going to see that every one of them had checkered records. It doesn’t matter that they were assigned to a special unit. That video is just sickening. And what’s more frightening is that they all knew this was subject to bodycam video recording. They just didn’t care.

    1. David

      It needs to be easier to fire police, even without cause having to be proven. You’re on the right? Great, let’s set a precedent for making it easier to fire public sector workers even if only starting with police. You’re on the left? Great, we’re only saying it should be easier to fire public employees with guns and the power to arrest, not all public sector workers.

  3. B. McLeod

    Right out of the shoot, politicians blaming this on the defeat of their George Floyd legislation. As though local governments, like the Democratic machine in Memphis, can’t clean up their violent police culture without a federal law forcing them to do it. There needs to be accountability at the local level, and it is 100% achievable by local departments and local governments. If they decide they really want to. Evidently, Memphis didn’t.

  4. Ross

    The forums I read to keep a pulse on general sentiment are acting far differently on this case than on other cop killing citizen cases. Even the regular police bootlickers are horrified with what the video shows. There are still a few saying “he should have complied”, but they’ve been roundly chastised for that. There is very little of the usual political posturing. Maybe there is hope that some sort of change can happen.

    There is also a sense that police have figured out how to make their body cameras not show everything, either by turning away at opportune moments or by positioning an arm or piece of equipment to block the lens. The video from the city camera on a pole is what clearly shows what the police did, and removes any doubt about just how egregious the actions of the officers were.

    One surprise this morning is that 2 EMTs have been suspended while their actions and failure to provide aid in a timely manner are investigated. That’s very shocking, since emergency medical personnel usually just do their jobs.

  5. Miles

    I’m hoping to hear from some of the cop readers to get their take on this. Do they see a problem here that they want to see fixed? Is this going to change anything or will this fade away and cop life will go back to normal.

    Is there anything that can make cops want to change the culture so that this type isn’t tolerated even among cops?

  6. Michael McNutt

    Nothing is going to change. Not this video, not cameras on every policeman, not black policemen or black women police chiefs, not policemen getting arrested and going to jail will change the way these people behave and murder. Just like most criminals and gangs.

  7. Chris Halkides

    “A [New York] Times analysis found that officers gave dozens of contradictory and unachievable orders to Mr. Nichols.” This is vaguely reminiscent of the Daniel Shaver incident, and it rebuts those who say words to the effect that he should have just complied.

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