As a senior citizen, I often view events and people from the perspective of how they will be remembered. After the death of a dear one, the sadness and much of the pain and suffering and difficulties in loss and life seem to fade with time. It is often replaced by remembering the joys you’ve shared.
That said, I question whether the devastated mother of Tyre Nichols can ever overcome her tortured son’s haunting pleas for help while he was being brutalized by police. Will it be possible for her to remember the sweetness she shared with her Tyre? How can she be anything but overwhelmed by anger and crushed by grief?
In the past week, I’ve learned much about Tyre’s mother, and I think she’s an amazing woman. Her response to the death of her son at the hands of five brutal policemen was to say she would pray for them. With wise judgment, she asked that the hordes of folks, outraged by the vicious attack on her son, protest peacefully. Her strength and courage under these most dreadful of circumstances are hard for me to fathom.
Yet in the face of ongoing brutality and racist madness I think this woman of strong faith can serve as a role model for all of us. She reminds us that we are all human beings; she encourages the meek among us to use their voices and to do so with reason; she offers strength to the weak and shows us how to use the will to fight injustice. My hope and prayers are that she will awaken understanding and responsibility in all of us.
As we review the dreadful beating of Tyre, we have to ask what could possibly motivate the police to use such deadly force against him. Have no reforms been established to prevent such inhumane action? In response to the tragic death of George Floyd (May 2020), Congressional Democrats proposed a bill several months later. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was introduced with the goal of combatting police misconduct, addressing the excessive use of force, and policing without racial bias. The bill passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, but not the evenly divided Senate amid Republican opposition. Shamefully, negotiations on that reform bill collapsed in September 2021 and has not been voted on since.
Almost daily, brutal and sometimes deadly, confrontations with police take place and, more often than not, they are directed against the non-white community. How can anyone feel safe when our “guardian” police, employed to “serve and protect,” are often the perpetrators of vicious acts? It should be noted that these “bad apple” police are in the minority of police departments. The horrific behavior of the few captures the headlines. As a result, responsible police officers are often disrespected, tainted by the bad actions of others. Fewer and fewer qualified people are willing to join the police force, adding to the serious problems police departments across the nation have.
We, all of us, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, white folks, and people of color, must bombard our Congress to enact the George Floyd Bill, at a minimum, and then make it effective now. May parents, like Tyre’s mother, take strength from the knowledge they have awakened in the minds and hearts of many of us, and guided us to care and speak up.
I hope that even though Tyre’s death was unconscionable, with time his mother will be able to dwell in the sweet memories she shared with her son and that she will find peace.