The Institute Leadership Team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas strongly condemns the extrajudicial killing of Tyre Nichols.
Tyre Nichols was a father, son, friend who loved photography and skateboarding. He was pulled from his car and beaten by police during a routine traffic stop and did not resist as blows rained down on his body by multiple police officers, several almost twice his size. And then, when his body could take it no more, he used his last words to call for his mother.
After every police or vigilante killing of a Black person, a predictable cycle begins; hashtags, an inundation of news pundits and misinformed persons asking, “what did he/she do to cause this?” and throngs of allies peacefully protesting calling for justice and asserting “never again.”
We have witnessed this cycle of police or vigilante killings of a Black person after four Los Angeles police officers beat Rodney King on March 3, 1991; again, when George Perry Floyd, Jr. was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck and back for nine minutes and 29 seconds on May 25, 2020. We are in this cycle now with the beating of Tyre Nichols by five Memphis police officers on January 7th who later succumbed to the injuries of the beating on January 10, 2023.
…and we must acknowledge all incidents of police brutality, killings, and vigilante killings in between, seen and unseen.
Just as predictable as the cycles, is the aftermath of the cycles. As time passes the hashtags appear less, protests stop, and the media moves on to the next story.
Members of the Black community live with an acute awareness — knowing there will be another killing, praying it will not be them or a loved one, hoping “to just make it home” alive and wrestling with the reality, that home does not keep a Black person safe from being killed by the police, even while sleeping.
But Justice has not come.
Arrests and convictions are not justice, these are forms of accountability!
It is indisputable that white supremacy and anti-Blackness molds how police officers deal with Black people. And, it is clear that the uniform, the culture and the system of policing that dehumanizes Black people and takes control of Black bodies supersedes the racial, ethnic and gender identity of an individual officer.
To glimpse a path toward Justice, the Sisters of Mercy urge all to begin by contacting their local leaders and lobby them to adopt the framing of the #8cantwait campaign that names eight policies for more restrictive use of force, grounded in research. And, then advocate to their federal representatives to pass the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act.
And this is just a start.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice…” (Matthew 5:6)
Institute Leadership Team