(CNN Spanish) — After being postponed a few hours due to winter weather, the funeral was held this Wednesday for Tyra Nichols, who died at the age of 29 after being stopped and beaten by Memphis police officers in a traffic stop.
Nichols was hospitalized following his arrest on 7 January and died from his injuries three days later.
Because of this crime, five Memphis Police Department officers were fired following an internal investigation and faced criminal charges. In addition, three firefighters were fired and two more police officers were disciplined for Nichols’ death.
The funeral, organized by the Nichols family, was attended by several local and federal officials, including Kamala Harris, the Vice President of the United States, and black people who have been victims of police violence in the country, such as Philonise Floyd, The minor brother of George Floyd – who died in May 2020 after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck and back for more than 9 minutes.
The ceremony took place at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, located at 70 N. Bellevue Blvd.
Rev. Lawrence Turner, the church’s senior pastor and secretary-treasurer of the board of the National Action Network, a civil rights advocacy group, officiated the ceremony.
Tyra Nichols’ Mother’s Call to Action
“Tyre was a beautiful person and for this to happen to him is unimaginable,” his mother, Rowan Wells, said in tears at Nichols’ funeral.
Wells specifically called for the passage of the George Floyd Police Justice Act.
He said, “There should be no child who suffers like my son.” “We have to pass that law, because if we don’t, that blood … that next kid that dies, that blood will be on their hands.”
Tyra Nichols’ sisters share a poem she wrote for them
During the funeral, his sisters shared their memories of him.
One of them recalled when she had to take care of Tyre: “He wanted nothing more than to watch cartoons and have a big bowl of cereal, so it was very easy to take care of him,” she said.
The sister ponders when she learns that Nichols has died. She said, “I see the world showing love for him and fighting for his justice, but all I want is for my little brother to come back.”
Another sister read a poem she had written in memory of her brother, titled “I’m Just Trying to Go Home.”
“I’m just trying to get back home, is that too much to ask? I didn’t break any laws on this path. I tripped over obstacles designed to hold me back. I just wanted to get back home.” Trying to find where the love is strong and the smiles warm Like a sunset rising out of me in the coldest of storms I’m just trying to get home I hear sirens I see flashing lights Directions clear Black skin on the left Blue skin on the right I’m just trying to go back home. Don’t I deserve to feel safe? The stick, the plate, the shoes, the light shining in my face. I’m just trying to go home doing. Can anyone hear the pain in my screams? The struggle in my breathing. ‘Come home, my son, you can rest now,'” he read.
Message from Vice President Kamala Harris
Harris spoke directly to the family of Tyr Nichols at his funeral, saying: “Americans mourn with you.”
“Mothers all over the world, when their children are born, pray to God that when they hold that child, that body and that life may be safe for the rest of their days. Yet we have a crying mother and Father’s life. The young man who should be here today,” she said after being called to the stand by the Rev. Al Sharpton.
He said Nicholls’ family had lost their loved one “at the hands and feet of those who were on a mission to keep him safe”, adding that the fatal confrontation “did not happen in the interest of public safety”.
In addition, Harris called on Congress to pass the “George Floyd Police Justice Act”, which she co-authored on the original bill as a senator.
The Vice President commented: “As Vice President of the United States, we demand that Congress pass the ‘George Floyd Police Justice Act’. Joe Biden will sign it and we must not delay and we will not be denied.” It’s non-negotiable.”
Originally introduced in 2020 and again in 2021, the legislation would establish a national registry of police misconduct to prevent officers from escaping the consequences of their actions by transferring to another jurisdiction.
The legislation would ban racial and religious profiling by federal, state and local law enforcement, and modify qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that critics say protects law enforcement from surrendering accounts.
The bill passed the Democratic-controlled House twice in 2020 and 2021. civil court.
Recognition to the families of other black people killed by police
Delivering the eulogy for Tire Nichols, Rev. Al Sharpton put the families of other black people killed by police on their feet in support of the Nichols family.
Sharpton appealed to the families of George Floyd, Botham Jean, Eric Garner and Breonna Taylor.
Sharpton asked Keisha Lance Bottoms, Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee, D-Texas, Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee, and Vice President Kamala Harris, all of whom were present at the service.
The deaths of both Floyd and Taylor have sparked calls for police reform and sparked protests.
In March 2020, Breonna Taylor was killed in a police raid on her apartment.
George Floyd died at the hands of police two weeks after Taylor’s death drew national attention. Images from video cameras showed that an officer – in an attempt to restrain Floyd – knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes.
“How dare they”
As well as delivering the eulogy, Al Sharpton criticized the five black police officers who were allegedly involved in beating him to death.
“There is nothing more humiliating and humiliating for those of us who fought to open doors for you to walk through and to act like those of us who had to ask you to walk through those doors on your own. Had to fight. You didn’t come.” To the police department. The police chief himself did not reach there. People have had to march and go to jail, and some have lost their lives just to open doors for you. And how dare you to act as if the sacrifice was in vain,” Sharpton said.
Sharpton renewed his call for police to be held accountable for using excessive force.
Sharpton referred Nichols to Memphis police officers, saying that he did nothing when they pulled him out of his car after a traffic stop.
“The man said, ‘I haven’t done anything.’ They went ahead anyway,” Sharpton said. “Why are they stepping up? Because they feel there is no accountability.”
He said the people will continue to fight for justice and “will not stop until we hold them accountable and change the system.”
“We understand you need to deal with crime, but you don’t fight crime by being a criminal,” Sharpton said. “You don’t fight criminals on the street by being a criminal yourself. You don’t fight a gang by being five armed men against one unarmed man. It’s not the police, it’s the criminals.”
He called for the passing of the ‘George Floyd Police Justice Act’ so that police officers would “think twice” before “shooting someone unarmed”.
Nicholls’ family lawyer ‘calls for justice’
The family’s attorney, Ben Crump, “called for justice” during the funeral and praised the work of local activism in Memphis.
“It’s the people on the ground, on the front lines, who make a difference,” Crump said.
“When we make a call to action, it’s really a plea for justice. It’s a plea for Tyre Nichols’ son, it’s a plea for justice for Tyre Nichols’ brother, it’s for Tyre Nichols’ father A plea for justice, but above all else, a request to Tyr Nichols the Human Being,” he said.
“That’s what we’re going to get for Tyre Nicholls,” said Crump. “His legacy will be one of equal justice.”
Crump also highlighted the case of Breonna Taylor, noting that both Taylor and Nichols have the same date of birth: June 5, 1993.
They shed light on Tyra Nichols’ work as a photographer
For Tyr Nichols, photography was a form of personal expression that writing could never capture, writing on his photography website that it helped him “see the world in a more creative way”.
Although he did everything from sports action photos to bodies of water, landscape photography was his favorite, he wrote. He said, “I hope that one day people will look at my work and appreciate my work based on the quality and ideals of my work.” He signed the message: “Your friend, – Tyr D. Nichols.”
At his funeral, several photographs of Nichols were displayed in a montage alongside photographs of him and the protests that followed his death.
Here are some of his photographic works:
With reporting by CNN’s Jamiel Lynch and Kristina Zdanowicz