VIDEO ADVISORY: Footage released of the traffic stop and beating of Tyre Nichols contained in our coverage may be disturbing to people. We do recommend discretion in viewing.
WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Demonstrators in the District peacefully added their voices to the nationwide outrage that came Friday after the release of video that showed the traffic stop and beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tenn. that led to the 31-year-old man’s death three days later.
Five Memphis Police Department officers who were fired because of what happened were charged Thursday with Nichols’ murder.
A group, made up largely of members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, gathered at Lafayette Square near the White House. The demonstration lasted for approximately two hours and featured speaker after speaker calling for change and overhaul to law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
“It is offensive to decency that this happened, ” stated Robert Brannum, who is part of the NAACP Washington, D.C. Branch.
“It has happened here, and if we don’t continue to fight against it. It’s gonna happen again. This is something we see continuously,” said Makayla Marie, who was part of the demonstration. “It’s not new to us, but it’s still going on, and we’re begging for them to do something, and they’re not doing anything.”
A gathering of people led by activist group Harriet’s Wildest Dream blocked part of K Street NW Friday night with a goal of sending a message to police and the community. In part, the group called for the release of video of three people who were shot and killed by police in the city in 2022.
The demonstrators, like those across the country, also pushed for a true revamp of policing practices and systems.
“We see police officers who are banging people’s heads into the sidewalk, who are picking fights with young children, right, so, all of this violence, we see nationwide, because it’s symbolic of the system as a whole.” said Fae, a community organizer.
For Patrice Sulton, who founded D.C. Justice Lab, much of the work begins with the support of elected officials and other community leaders.
“It does underscore and remind us that D.C. needs to end jump outs, that D.C. needs to think about non-police traffic enforcement, that D.C. should limit foot chases, and all of those things are easy enough to write into law if there was the will there,” Sulton said.
Some of the people who blocked K Street NW plan to put together the D.C. Safety Mobilization Squad, a group of trained volunteers who can respond to emergency situations to help de-escalate things if needed and prevent circumstances such as the ones that led to Nichols’ death.