This week, the city of Memphis released over an hour of video footage showing the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old African American man. The footage showed him being struck with kicks, punches, a baton and pepper sprayed multiple times, while he cried out for his mother. Nichols later died in the hospital.
In response, five Memphis police officers were charged Thursday with second degree murder and other crimes. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump called this a 'blueprint going forward' for holding police responsible for misconduct. Shelby County Sheriff's deputies who appeared on the scene of the beating of Nichols are now under investigation and have been "relieved of duty" pending an internal investigation.
Protests have been planned for major cities across the country this weekend, with demonstrators rallying in New York City, Memphis and Baltimore, among other cities. Experts have said the race of the officers involved is less important than the race of the victim when it comes to a pattern of racialized police violence against Black people. Crump noted the discrepancy in how quickly charges were brought against the Black officers in this case, compared to the length of time that passed in other police killings involving white officers. It is an unusual reaction to cases of police brutality, but may typify the experience of Black people navigating the legal system.