From the New York Times news section:
Tyre Nichols Beating Opens a Complex Conversation on Race and Policing
The five officers charged with the murder of the young Black man are also Black, complicating the anguish and efforts at police reform.
By Clyde McGrady
Jan. 28, 2023
The killing of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man in Memphis, at the hands of police has prompted outrage and condemnation from racial justice activists, police reform advocates and law enforcement officials, including the chief of the Memphis Police Department, a Black woman who lobbied for policing changes in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
The fact that the five officers charged with Mr. Nichols’s murder are Black complicates the anguish. It has also brought into focus what many Black people have said is frequently lost in police brutality cases involving white officers and Black victims: that problems of race and policing are a function of an entrenched police culture of aggression and dehumanization of Black people more than of interpersonal racism. It is the system and the tactics that foster racism and violence, they say, rather than the specific racial identities of officers.
Listen, people, Systemic Racism is not a conspiracy theory. We are not saying that people are conspiring together in their self-interest, we are saying that people are not conspiring together in their disinterest. Or something. Have you read Foucault? It all makes sense if you keep in mind who are the Good People and who are the Bad People.
“It’s not racism driving this, it’s culturism,” Robert M. Sausedo, the head of a Los Angeles nonprofit formed after the Rodney King beating in 1991, said after watching the video of Mr. Nichols’s beating Friday night.
… “Blackness doesn’t shield you from all of the forces that make police violence possible,” Mr. Forman said. “What are the theories of policing and styles of policing, the training that police receive? All of those dynamics that propel violence and brutality are more powerful than the race of the officer.”
Amber Sherman, an activist and organizer working with the Nichols family as they push for policy changes in the police, said that racism is a clear factor in policing when you look at who the victims of police violence are, not the race of the officers.
Officers of all races “are indoctrinated into a practice that sees Black people and brown people as less than,” Ms. Sherman said. …
Others expressed disappointment that Black officers did not have more empathy as well as concern that the race of the officers would muddle the issue of entrenched police violence against Black people.
“As an African American, it’s unfortunate that because the officers are Black, people are going to say violence against Blacks is not racially motivated,” said Joel Kellum, 57, a public school teacher in New York City.
“Black cops will do that to Black perps, too,” Mr. Kellum added. “It’s complicated and it’s sad.”
Police reform advocates have long argued that departments should more accurately reflect the demographics of the communities they police as a way to improve policing and help build trust in those communities. In Memphis, 65 percent of the population is Black, and so is 58 percent of its police force.
If only the Memphis PD were 65/58th more black, this wouldn’t have happened!
“We have a very simplistic way of approaching the problem of policing and believing that representation is some kind of silver bullet,” said Professor Jody Armour, a University of Southern California law professor who studies racial justice. “It’s not just a Black and white issue, but a Black and blue one. And when you put on that blue uniform, it often becomes the primary identity that drowns out any other identities that might compete with it.”
Mr. Armour said the Memphis incident shows that it is a “fairy tale” to think that adding more members of a marginalized group in the police will lead to more just and fairer treatment of members of that group.
D’Zhane Parker, of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, one of the organizations associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, renewed a call to defund the police, releasing a statement that said the video of Mr. Nichols’s beating “affirms what we’ve known all along: Reform doesn’t work. Incremental progress is too slow. Diversifying a police department will not work.”
Hence, D’Zhane wants us to go back to Lynch Law.
… The fact that Mr. Nichols was assaulted by Black officers “doesn’t mean that we should abandon what’s critical like diversifying police departments,” said Miriam Krinsky, a former prosecutor who is now executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution. “Individuals who come from communities that are most policed and at times over policed have a right to expect that those who we charge to keep them safe and build their trust come from, and have a connection to, those communities.”
Still Ms. Krinsky acknowledged that police reform has to go beyond diversity. “Because if we hire the right people, but then the culture of the organization, and how they’re trained, and the tone and values that are modeled aren’t the right ones — just having the right people alone isn’t going to be a solution to some of the concerns about police behavior.”
For some Black police reform advocates, the fact that the officers involved are Black has been especially wrenching.
“I think it is really hard to stomach as a Black person when you see everyone involved in the situation is Black,” said Max Markham, of Center for Policing Equity, a group that addresses racial disparities in policing. “Not that it would make you feel better if they were white,” he added.
He is glad the officers were charged swiftly but is disheartened that they may add to the number of incarcerated Black men.
“We have so many Black folks in jail. We have too many Black folks who have been killed,” Mr. Markham said.
Even the speed with which the five officers were charged has elicited complex reactions of both applause and concern that white officers have been treated differently under similar circumstances.
“Let’s be honest, let’s think about this — this is not the first time we saw police officers committing crimes and engaging in excessive, brutal force against Black people in America who are unarmed, but we have never seen swift justice like this,” Mr. Crump, the Nichols family attorney, said.
“We have to make the point exceedingly clear: We now have a blueprint, America, and we won’t accept less going forward in the future,” he said. “We won’t have Black officers treated differently than white officers. We want equal justice under the law.”
… Ms. Sherman, the activist working with the Nichols family, supports the prosecution of the officers. But, she says, it is also another way that she sees racism at work.
“At the end of the day, the city and the Police Department reminded them that they are Black men,” Ms. Sherman said, “and they will treat them less than, just like they treated Tyre, and make sure they fire them immediately and prosecute them.”
In downtown Memphis on Friday, Darell Johnson, a contractor, was using a drill to attach plywood to the windows of a loan agency building in case protests took a destructive turn, but by late Friday night they had ended peacefully. Mr. Johnson, 44, who is Black and has lived in Memphis for two decades, said that he was more focused on the tragedy of Mr. Nichols’s death than the fact that the five charged officers were Black. …
Robert Chiarito, Douglas Morino, Mitch Smith, Vik Jolly, Jessica Jaglois, Rick Rojas, Remy Tumin, Michael D. Regan, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Wesley Parnell contributed reporting.
Clyde McGrady is a national correspondent covering race from Washington. He previously covered race and identity for The Washington Post. @CAMcGrady
It’s almost as if the New York Times assigned 11 reporters to this story because they were hoping for race riots. But it’s January, so the Mostly Peaceful Protesters would rather watch TV.
Speaking of antiquarianism, from the NYT opinions section:
Violent History Echoes in the Killing of Tyre Nichols
Jan. 28, 2023
By Emily Yellin
Ms. Yellin is a Memphis-based journalist who is collaborating with the Rev. James Lawson Jr. on his forthcoming memoir.
MEMPHIS — On April 3, 1968 …
This month, Tyre Nichols …
Three years after Mr. Payne’s 1968 killing, several Memphis law enforcement officers were charged in connection with the murder of Elton Hayes, a Black 17-year-old who was beaten to death in a ditch after a high-speed chase. (Twenty years later, the police beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles had similarities to that case.) Mr. Hayes’s killing in 1971 ignited five days of uprisings in Memphis. The officers were acquitted.
In 1974 …
The toxic line reaches much farther back, to 1866 …
Twenty-six years later, in 1892