Tyre Nichols: Memphis remains calm as police chief disbands rogue unit
The calm in Memphis has persisted through a second night.
After the release of the harrowing bodycam footage on Friday night - that showed in horrifying detail the police assault on Tyre Nichols - there were widespread fears of rioting and anti-police violence.
It’s a remarkable tribute to this community that the protests have remained peaceful, exactly as Mr Nichols’ mother urged.
One reason is that city officials have moved decisively to charge the five former police officers who attacked Tyre Nichols on January 7th. If convicted, the five face up to 60 years behind bars on murder, assault and kidnapping charges.
The speed of the charges satisfied the family and showed Memphis is committed to seeing justice done.
Last night, it was also announced that the police unit that the five officers worked in will be permanently disbanded. The Scorpion Unit was a specialist team designed to work in high-crime areas. It is now tragically clear it also hid within its ranks rogue officers.
Memphis is a city with a central place in the history of the civil rights struggle. It was the home of the pioneering journalist and activist Ida B Wells. With untold courage, she exposed the prevalence of lynchings across America in the late nineteenth century.
It is also the city that witnessed the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968, a tragedy that left the civil rights movement without its greatest leader. The murder site is now a civil rights museum.
Now once more Memphis finds itself at the centre of global attention. This time, the question is whether the savage beating of Tyre Nichols will ignite a movement to radically change policing in America.
Memphis is being tested. Voices are calling for justice and for change. On Wednesday Mr Nichols’ funeral will take place.
So far, the city is holding to its long tradition of responding to oppression with dignity and peaceful protest.
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