Tyre Nichols' mother urges Congress to pass George Floyd Bill or risk 'blood on their hands'
ITV News Correspondent Robert Moore reports on the funeral of Tyre Nichols and the impassioned pleas for police reform to end police brutality
The mother of Tyre Nichols has urged Congress to act on police brutality during the funeral service for her son, who was killed by five officers.
Mr Nichols' mother, RowVaughn Wells said officials needed to "take action" to avoid more parents losing their children, or risk having the "blood on their hands".
Mrs Wells urged Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, aimed at stamping out police brutality, during her son's funeral service that was held at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, Tennessee, on Wednesday.
Those in attendance included Vice President Kamala Harris; Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor; and Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd.
“That George Floyd bill, we need it passed," Mrs Wells told mourners.
"We need to take some action because there should be no other child that should suffer the way my son - and all the other parents here have lost their children - we need to get that bill passed.
"Because if we don’t, that blood - the next child that dies - that blood is going to be on their hands.”
Mr Nichols, who was a father-of-one, has been described by friends as being "joyful and lovable", with a passion for photography.
Many mourners wiped away tears as the 29-year-old's sisters, brothers and parents shared their memories at the funeral service.
Mr Nichols' mother said her faith has given her some comfort in the weeks since his killing.
Tyre Nichols' mother RowVaughn Wells, his brother Jamal Dupree, and his stepfather Rodney Wells speak during the funeral service
“The only thing that’s keeping me going is that I truly believe that my son was sent here on assignment from God," Mrs Wells said through tears.
"And I guess now his assignment is done. He’s gone home.”
LaToya Yizar, who said her mother was Mr Nichols' godmother, read a poem she wrote invoking the words Mr Nichols had said as police officers beat him.
The poem was titled: “I’m Just Trying To Go Home”.
While addressing mourners at the service, the vice president called for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
Vice President Harris, who got a standing ovation as she approached the stage, said the police beating of Mr Nichols should never have happened and added that the police are supposed to protect the public.
"This violent act was not in pursuit of public safety,” she told mourners. "Tyre Nichols should have been safe.”
Harris went on to call for legislative action, saying the president supports the bill.
"As vice president of the United States, we demand that Congress pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
"Joe Biden will sign it. And we should not delay and we will not be denied. It is non-negotiable.”
During the memorial service, a group of singers and drummers sang "We love you, Tyre,” prompting those in attendance to join in.
The Reverand J. Lawrence Turner called Nichols “a good person, a beautiful soul, a son, a father, a brother, a friend, a human being” who was gone too soon.
“As we celebrate Tyre’s life and comfort this family, we serve notice to this nation that the rerun of this episode that makes Black lives hashtags has been cancelled and will not be renewed for another season.
"We have come and we shall overcome,” he added.
Reverend Al Sharpton, founder and president of the National Action Network, delivered the eulogy.
Mr Sharpton gathered Nichols' family and local activists at Mason Temple Church of God in Christ in Memphis where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his final speech the night before he was assassinated nearly 55 years ago.
During his service, Mr Sharpton directly addressed Mr Nichols' mother and stepfather, RowVaughn and Rodney Wells.
“The reason why, Mr and Mrs Wells, what happened to Tyre is so personal to me, is that five Black men that wouldn’t have had a job in the police department, would not ever be thought of to be in an elite squad, in the city that Dr. King lost his life, not far away from that balcony, you beat a brother to death,” Mr Sharpton said.
“There’s nothing more insulting and offensive to those of us that fight to open doors, that you walk through those doors and act like the folks we had to fight for to get you through them doors.”
Five black police officers - Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith - were fired on January 20 after an internal investigation into their treatment of Mr Nichols.
The officers have been charged with second-degree murder, two counts of official misconduct, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, one count of official oppression and one count of aggravated assault.
Memphis police spokeswoman Karen Rudolph said that a white officer, Preston Hemphill, was relieved of duty shortly after the arrest of Mr Nichols.
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