Kamala Harris Says ‘Violent Act Was Not In Pursuit Of Public Safety’

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Kamala Harris Says ‘Violent Act Was Not In Pursuit Of Public Safety’
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Topline

Vice President Kamala Harris and the families of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd—whose deaths at the hands of police sparked nationwide protests in 2020—attended Tyre Nichols’ funeral in Memphis on Wednesday, as calls for police reform resurface in the wake of Nichols’ death.

Key Facts

President Joe Biden was not in attendance, although White House aides Keisha Lance Bottoms and Tara Murray, as well as Biden’s senior advisor Mitch Landrieu and White House Director of African American Media Erica Loewe, traveled to Memphis for the funeral.

Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd—who was killed by police in Minneapolis when an officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes after a store clerk accused him of using counterfeit money—as well as Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot when police raided her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky, were also there, multiple outlets reported.

Harris, who in a statement last week called for an end to “the persistent issue of police misconduct and use of excessive force” and reportedly spoke to Nichols’ mother on the phone, was in attendance, according to a White House official, speaking to CNN.

Rev. Al Sharpton is set to deliver a eulogy at the funeral, which began at 2 p.m., before Nichols’ family lays Nichols to rest.

Key Background

Five officers in the Memphis Police Department pulled over Nichols’ car on the night of January 7 for what they claimed was a routine traffic stop, although body camera and surveillance footage released last Friday revealed police used pepper spray and threw kicks and punches at Nichols as he lay on the ground. He died three days after the arrest. In the weeks that followed, all five officers involved were released from the police department, and charged with second-degree murder. The SCORPION unit they belonged to—a specialty unit tasked with addressing crime—was also disbanded, following questions as to why the specialty unit was involved in the first place. Another member of the Memphis Police Department was later relieved of duty, although his involvement in the arrest was not disclosed.

Crucial Quote

Speaking on the altar, Harris called Nichols’ death an “act of violence at the hands and the feet of people who had been charged with keeping them safe,” saying the “violent act was not in pursuit of public safety.” She also urged lawmakers to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which was reintroduced earlier this week after Senate Republicans blocked the bill last year over concerns it would limit qualified immunity, which protects law enforcement officers from misconduct lawsuits.

Tangent

Nichols’ death also sparked protests in Memphis, New York City and Los Angeles, and prompted lawmakers to renew a push for law enforcement reforms—although the reforms face opposition in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Speaking at the Mason Temple in Memphis this week, where Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 delivered his famous “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speech, Sharpton pledged to “continue in Tyre’s name to head up to Martin’s mountaintop,” saying, “there’s nothing that you can say that can explain what we saw on that videotape.”

Further Reading

Tyre Nichols’ Death: Footage Of Nichols’ Fatal Beating Sparks Protests Nationwide (Forbes)

Tyre Nichols Video: Here Are The Key Questions After Shocking Footage Released (Forbes)

Lawmakers Will Renew Police Reform Push After Tyre Nichols Killing—Here’s Why Negotiations Stalled In The Previous Congress (Forbes)

Tyre Nichols Death: What To Know About The Now-Disbanded ‘SCORPION’ Police Unit That Pulled Him Over (Forbes)





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