628 Comments

Thank you for including his photographs. Just too sad for words...

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How they speak for him!

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Yes thank you for this post. He was a real person, a fellow human being. He had a job, was a talented photographer, a father, a friend, someone’s beloved child.

To have it all end like that is just incomprehensible and terribly wrong.

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Nicely said Sally and Heather. Thanks for sharing Tyre's pictures

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I almost completely agree. I'm sad but I do still have a few words. This Brutal Madness Must Stop. The slogan on police cars says, "to serve and protect." It's time for departments nationwide to ensure their officers are living up to this creed; to serve and protect the public, not commit wrong, serve their own interests and conspire to protect the worst of their members. We've heard for years that with more diversity on police forces, we would see less lethal interactions between police and POC. Tyre Nichols brutal, senseless murder shows that the problem isn't solely one of diversity but one of police department culture. Until LEO stop looking at the world as "us versus them" and the communities they work in as occupied territory, this brutal cycle of murder will continue.

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the police are taught to demand compliance, and they want everything resolved as quickly as possible. to fail to comply in even the most trivial way or to ask for an explanation or to question their authority is to risk serious injury or worse. in a group they back up whoever takes the lead. not one will try to calm anybody down. a crowd of a thousand can tell them they got it wrong, and they'll pay no attention. they are like friends who encourage friends to drive drunk.

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I agree with your observation and believe it supports my claim that police culture is the problem. Officers are public servants: they are employed by and in service to us, the public that pays the taxes that employ them. Can you think of any other situation where an employee, approaches their employer with hostility and DEMANDS their employer's compliance? Does your mechanic push his chest out, neck cords straining and DEMAND your compliance when coordinating work on your car? I agree that many cases have shown officers with a mob mentality in an escalated situation, which perpetuates even greater violence. My question is, why are precincts instructed nationwide to berate, cow and bellow at the public in their interactions? Why does it seem that so many of them start an interaction escalated to a hostility factor of ten and then go from there? No other service works this way. Not hospitality, medicine, retail sales, contracting, none. We are their neighbors and fellow citizens, not a hostile force taken prisoner in the midst of wartime. My opinion is that this dynamic is flawed and their training has to change.

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some people will say that the police see the worst in people and are often afraid on the job. but they often act in a high handed way in calm situations. there is a video in which a fellow is playing his guitar on a subway platform in NYC, his case open to receive tips. the rules are simple, and i just happen to know them. there are 100 prime locations in the subway system for which musicians must audition, but you can play anywhere else as long as you are not in the way or too close to a construction site. well, along comes a transit cop who asks to see this fellow's permit to play. the fellow says that he doesn't need a permit to play at this location. the two of them talk back and forth, disagreeing. other people arrive and tell the cop that the musician is correct, the cop says he has the rules on his phone, and he reads them. they clearly state that this fellow can play on this platform. a crowd of a dozen informs the officer that he is wrong. the cop says no, this fellow has to leave. he calls for backup. four officers arrive within a few minutes. some of them must know the rules, but they go along with the first officer. one picks up the guitar case, another takes the guitar, the rest escort this musician, who does not resist, up the stairs and out of the station. to everyone on the platform this is clearly not something to fight about, but WTF? in my opinion the police are as afraid of each other as they are of the public. to contradict or interfere with another officer, as the junior officers should have done in the george floyd case, can get you into serious trouble. and you can bet that someday when you need backup, no one is coming. either you're all in, or you're out.

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Again, you are not wrong. I agreed with your last post and that agreement continues with this one. My proposition is that although this currently is the method of "policing" being practiced, this model is flawed and must be changed. It makes no one safer, keeps officers and the citizens they encounter on edge and doesn't allow for cooler heads or sensible processing of what is unfolding in police/public interactions. Since police are paid by and work for the public, we the public, need to expect effectual change in how they interact with all of us. It cannot be acceptable that one traffic stop ends up in pleasantries and a warning, while another ends in hostility and severe injury or death. No other developed democracy has seemingly innocuous police interactions that devolve so rapidly into deadly violence. We the people expect better, the capacity to deliver better exists and we as a society should not rest until the quality of policing improves.

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i suppose the first question is, was it ever any different? and if so, when and why did it all change?

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This hostility applies to border agents too. My husband and I were recently in Mexico for a short vacation. We took a shuttle there and back from southern AZ, had to walk across the border and have our bags checked. On our return, we got separated and my husband went ahead. At the gate, the burly agent yelled at me "Who are you?" I showed him my US passport which he waved away and continued yelling "Get that thing off your face, you don't need it!" I wear a mask in crowded situations. I am 77, a white woman with white hair. If he was like that with me, I dread to think how they treat people of color. Later, my husband asked why I had not taken a photo of his badge. My answer was that I'd not wanted to escalate the situation further. Years ago, I was told "welcome home"... now I get the Gestapo treatment, for no reason that seems necessary to me.

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I never want to read these words again: after a routine traffic stop. They’re always preceded by the same multiple choice madness again and again and again.

But humanity reveals itself too, which in this case are Tyre Nichols’s photos that HCR so wisely links to so we grasp the life stolen.

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And we weep.

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And still we weep.

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So tired of the weeping. So tired that mothers cannot save their sons. So tired.

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TYRE was on his Fed Ex Shift break a short distance his Mother's home. There was NOTHING "routine" about this stop. "SCORPIONs" are NOT Traffic Cops.The Memphis Police Chief Davis said she saw "no proof" [ no evidence ] for the "stop" which has major legal implications.These criminal elements are squarely raised by the state charges. As the horrific acts become state court facts, findings or possibly the subject of plea deals with 1 of the 2 '"sheriffs" who appeared at the scene, I expect Federal violation of civil rights charges (plural) asap. No medical aid for over 20 minutes while SCORPIONS fist bumped which may be the source of evidence against the 2 "sheriffs" who did nothing. HUGE fact, you can hear the Dispatcher ask, " [w]hat are the charges?". There was no answer. SUNDAY UPDATE. Additionaly, two (2) Memphis Fire Department personnel also being investigated as the 2 FD's may have had a contract duty to render prompt medical aid even if they failed humane duty.

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Absolutely deserves Federal hate crime indictments.

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So tired we cannot see each other’s humanity by looking in each other’s eyes and seeing with our hearts.

The weeping, the pain of mothers, of fathers, of brothers, of sisters, of friends, of family, and of so many deeply affected by, impacted by the violence, the callous disregard for another’s life.

Will the violence, the callous disregard for another’s life ever stop…..

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Yes. Weep is the word. It is such a sad crying.

I say his name.

Godspeed, Tyre.

🗽

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For Heather to set aside her deep desire to share her words about the things that matter and allow Tyre to speak through his art is yet another demonstration of her humility, respect, and grace. Thank you, Heather, for letting Tyre speak for himself. Jim

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Dr. Richardson is, indeed, an well educated, well read, thoughtful intellectual with a heart. No doubt.

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Big heart, I write through the tears.

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Beautifully expressed, Jim. Thank you.

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On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, I would like to offer something entirely different to remind us all that courage and bravery and love also exist in a world alongside unspeakable horrors: https://twitter.com/G_S_Bhogal/status/1618928782588669952?cxt=HBwWgMDTrc_Jy_csAAAA&cn=ZmxleGlibGVfcmVjcw%3D%3D&refsrc=email

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Thank you very much for posting this, Betsy. What a beautiful tribute to a remarkable man! I appreciate knowing about him and his incredible work.

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There were SO many people who did so much, at risk to their own lives, to protect others. Bless them.

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I've seen this before... it never fails to provoke genuine tears.

What a real hero looks like: ordinary and doing the right thing, even when others make it dangerous to do so.

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Thank you. Your link to this man's life-saving story helped a little at a time like this.

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Thank you, Betsy.

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There is no greater moment than when a child comes before you as an adult…sometimes without recognition of who the person is…. and grasps you with their eyes and says, “thank you”.

That is the intended, incredible, and moving link between generations. Path to responsible peace.

Thank you and Salud, Betsy.

🗽💜

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That was eloquent, Christine

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I am sitting here with rears running down my face. Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece of humanity ♥️

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Oh how I love this story. Thank you Betsy Smith for lifting my heart on the heals of the Nashville story. An enormous loving bow to Tyre. Nichols and all who loved him and all who grieve for him now.

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That's one of the most beautiful moments I have ever seen. Thank you for posting!

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So powerful. Thank you.

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I watched this three times, thank you for posting, Betsy. Each time I had tears in my eyes. One modest man's courage, a man I never heard of, saved so many lives. I showed it to my husband whose father lost 22 first cousins in the Holocaust. Evil is evil whether on a grand scale or 5 vicious cops beating a man to death.

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If this doesn’t bring tears to your face then something is deeply wrong….

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Thank you so much. I needed that.

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Thank you for reminding us that there have been and are good people in the world!!!

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The police unit SCORPION is an acronym for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods. How can anything named after a scorpion mean Restore Peace?!! Do you know how to disarm a scorpion? My little Papillon dogs (all of six pounds) instinctively disarm scorpions by biting the scorpion at the base of the tail breaking it at that point making the tail limp and useless. So I never have to worry about my little dogs encountering scorpions. Why were five cops addressing a mere traffic violation!!!? I'm thinking it might work to have each beat cop be paired with a psychologist trained in deescalation and non-violent techniques. Thank you, Heather and Joyce Vance for providing a link to Mr. Nichols photography in your newsletter this evening! What a loss of a beautiful human being!

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Did these feral cops have quotas of arrests?

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I think "feral" is an appropriate adjective.

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Those rogue cops were functioning as a street gang. Just another chapter of the Crips - in their blue colors - looking to punish someone - anyone - to prove their power. "Why did you pull me over?" was all it took to set them off. Or perhaps nothing at all.

"He's resisting arrest and disrespecting us." Gangs always blame their violence on the victim. These cops need to spend the rest of their lives in prison. They are not fit to live among us.

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I made my comment and then I see yours, Seth.

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It might help if they are stripped of Scorpion “Status” and sentenced to life in prison.

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Cathy, what was the traffic violation? Did it occur after they pulled him from his vehicle? Were the officers needing another arrest to prove they were working?

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The traffic violation was claimed to be reckless driving -- a very subjective call. That was before they pulled him from his vehicle. If they have quotas, most of the quota concerns seem to be at the end of the month. This was January 7th. Why any traffic violation required five thugs in blue called SCORPIONs is beyond belief!

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I realize it was the first of the month and most of these arrests do come at the end of the month. I see a lot of reckless driving on the road but not enough to kill someone over. I would expect it with white cops but the shocking part to this one to me is that it was 5 black cops against one black man.

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Yes, it is shocking that it was black cops. That says we have institutional police violence which broader than police violence as simply a systemic race issue.

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Not shocking that Black cops murdered a Black man. Indifference to Black lives is institutionalized in the U.S. As is oppression of Black people. No surprise. They have the same disdain for Black people as everyone else. Systemic racism is rampant in law enforcement, the judicial system, education, religions. The list is old and long.

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So very sad!

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a lot of cops are probably bullies. And some may have anger issues that get in the way of objective policing. Or a combination of both.

In any case, these guys deserve to be put away for decades.

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There should be "special requirements" for police officers. Not everyone is qualified for various reasons...and apparently these 5 were not qualified. Just because you are tough and mean isn't what a police officer should be. We have had a few in our area that once they put that gun on their hip they rule the world. It is sad. We have seen it before. Just look at what happened to George Floyd in 2020. There was the guy with the knee and then the other officers with less experience watching the senior officer that was the tough guy! I am sure there are more that we have never heard about. Yes, there are good officers too, thankfully.

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Sometimes there simply aren't words...

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Perhaps this one: WHY?!!!

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I'll raise you two: NO MORE.

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Or simply: ENOUGH!

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or AGAIN?

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national tragedy redux redux redux

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I'm a photographer, and I get paid to do it. Tyre D. Nichols calls himself an "aspiring photographer." There's nothing "aspiring" there - he IS a photographer. And a very good one. And all that will never be, because five oxygen thieves, who would have made the world a better place if they'd never been born, decided to act out their fucked up insanity.

God damn those five worthless pieces of shit. I don't believe in the death penalty, but if I was on that jury, I could be convinced.

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Jan 28, 2023·edited Jan 28, 2023

I'm against the death penalty too, and this would not change my mind.

But I'm against it in part because I'm not sold on their being life after death, and therefore think a couple decades in solitary is a more severe and appropriate punishment for the evildoer than the quick out of offing them. as grotesquely cathartic as it may be.

Assuming progressives are always total softies is an error.

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You may be right, although I do believe in an afterlife. Life imprisonment w/o chance for parole gives each inmate the opportunity to reflect and repent, should he choose to do so. I would find it more difficult to relive my barbarism every day i were one of those officers.

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I get what you’re saying, TC.

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deletedJan 28, 2023·edited Jan 28, 2023
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Mike, that is bullshit. TC used expressive language appropriate to the occasion.

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Rob, good feedback. I deleted the post.

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Brief question, Mike, is there a point at which such "trashy" language is appropriate? Didn't think I would have to explain this to a fellow grown-up, but there are no "bad" words, as all words are just collections of letters that we imbue with whatever meaning we have been taught that they signify from previous experience. All languages I can think of have "bad" words, because they serve a purpose for expression.

And if you think what we are reading tonight does not rise to the level of their appropriate usage, pardon me good sir, but that is some seriously goddamn fucked up horseshit.

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Will,

Understood, I deleted the post.

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Amen!

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I believe that trashy language reflects more poorly upon the speaker than upon anybody else . The most powerful insults are creative, authoritative and vividly clear without denigrating the speaker. The power of obscenity, swearing, fist waving, redfaced obstinance assault by word or deed equates to a full blown tantruming two-or-three year old child. Real command of the language can issue accurately executed reprisal with truthful description, devastating insult, clarity and even embellishment while fending off accusations and assaults with dignity and relative composure. Obscenities are easier to hurl but that kind of utterance tends to boomerang back to discredit the speaker. Shakespeares are few and far between nowadays but nobody could outsling him.

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People hide very well behind erudite and lofty language.

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Mike, I understand what you are saying. But writing isn’t always positive and measured and thoughtful. It is also a way for us to express our anger, our fear, our OUTRAGE! Our humanity - which is often less than perfect and controlled - especially in a situation such as this.

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Jan 28, 2023·edited Jan 28, 2023

Gail,

I understand and have deleted the post and appreciate the feedback. And, I appreciate your not slinging foul language at me to make your kind point.

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Jan 28, 2023·edited Jan 28, 2023

I’ve been thinking about the words we have for this level of sorrow and despair, the expressions we have for love and hate and fear. Saw Mr. Nichols’ mom’s tears of grief and wondered what the mothers of these cops are thinking. I even dreamed about it last night; I kept hearing my adult son say Mom, MOM! in my sleep. I can’t dig up a word that gets to the depths of this horror. Ineffable is the best I’ve got and it’s weak.

All this to say that here, in this instance, I don’t disagree with TC’s choice of language.

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Understood.

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Mike, you may want to subscribe to TC's Substack, That's Another Fine Mess, to gain a broader appreciation of TC's expertise and passion.

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Good idea.

I did delete my post based on your and other feedback.

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Thank you Heather. Sending much love to his family and friends. Yet another heartbreaking moment in this sometimes painful journey we are on. Saying his name with all of you tonight, Tyre Nichols.

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Yes. Powerful. His photography feels peaceful and lovely.

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It speaks of joy in being. I'll never look at gravel the same way.

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I looked at each of his photos. That was a brilliant way to honor him, Heather. If the NYT had done that instead of the video, it might have touched people deeper with what was lost rather than the horror. I'll continue to refuse to view the horror.

Thank you.

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Ed, a friend sent me this link to one of our local public stations:

https://www.npr.org/2023/01/27/1152028575/tyre-nichols-video-watching-traumatic

I think this is a very real point for us as we watch humans die at the hands of humans who are sworn to uphold the laws that protect us all.

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Jan 28, 2023·edited Jan 28, 2023

Thanks so much for this link! These are the parts of the article that rang most true for me:

"Remember, you don't have to watch the video to stay informed about the case

CLIP If you want to watch it, you should ask yourself, why do I want to watch this?"

I think it very important that these videos not be censored and that we not allow police to censor them, which they try to do, or bury reporting the incident, which they try to do. That's a bit like allowing Holocaust denial. The choice to watch a particular graphic is an exercise in personal autonomy, and allowing people to exercise autonomy is essential to to having an ethical society. I believe this NPR editorial walks a fine line and could serve a shadow agenda of encouraging censorship. Many do "have to watch the video" if they are not convinced this really happens in our society or if too many police in the USA really do behave this way.

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Agreed. Because of my training and experience, I feel obligated to watch and bear witness, and to effect change.

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You absolutely have a right to feel this way and not be critiqued or restrained from acting on those feelings.

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You are braver than I am. I can't even click the on button. I am questioning why the video is even available. I can't stop thinking of the families of these fallen innocents. Out of words over here.

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Jan 28, 2023·edited Jan 28, 2023

I don't think your unwillingness to watch the video has anything to do with bravery. It's a horror and a trauma to witness death by savagery. I don't need to see it myself to believe it. I believe the news reports from reputable sources. We believe many news stories that don't come with video proof.

We're not on a jury in a courtroom. We're not news reporters or commentators who have to watch it as part of their jobs.

I did watch the recording of George Floyd's murder and that was more than enough for me in my lifetime. The policeman intent on killing Mr. Floyd looked to me like evil incarnate, exercising a depraved and heinous need to kill a Black man for no other reason than to satisfy some twisted inner desire. I never want to see that level of sickness and evil again.

To be clear, I don't judge people who do watch the video. It's not about judging others. I just don't think you are necessarily "not brave" in other areas of your life just because you don't want to watch police killing another human being for what those police apparently consider "fun."

I agree with several commentators I heard who said if this type of behavior doesn't come with swift and appropriately negative consequences, it will continue to happen. They said it's not mostly about training, it's about being held accountable.

This need for consequences applies to every police department across the country. It also applies to the "modern" Republican party politicians, supreme court justices and donors who encourage and/or enable this kind of hate and violence...and then often mock the victims. Hate, violence and senseless cruelty are not welcome in this country by the majority of Americans.

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I cannot agree more with your post. I too am unable to bring myself to watch another video of a man murdered by men empowered by their state to protect the public. I also don't judge those who can watch it. I have seen other similar videos, so many, maybe too many. The sorrow of watching yet another Black man calling out for his mother, while a group of armed officers snuffs out his life, is just too much for me to take. I think of his mother, in some musty, dark room at the precinct, steeling herself to watch the indifferent depravity they unleashed on her son. I am in awe of her strength in pursuit of justice. Black women in this country have always had to be strong. I keep hoping for a day that they don't need to be strong. I especially hope for a day that they don't need to muster the strength to witness the murders of their sons and daughters by the state.

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Thank you for sharing his art. He saw the beauty in the world.

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Is just too damn bad those scorpions couldn’t see the beauty in him.

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He signs, your friend. Our eyes now are his eyes and his eyes ours. The wonder of what his life could have been. A damn loss to his child, family, friends and humanity. Each soul lost through this violence is a loss to us all. 💔💔💔

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I'm glad you shared the link to Tyre's photographs, Heather. I tried staying off line once I logged off work today.

I can't watch another police snuff film.

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"...police snuff film..."

Exactly. I have been unable to watch the videos.

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Powerful. Thank you for the link.

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Indeed. Short but so poignant and deeply moving.

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I saw additional officers--more than another six or so--at the scene. They may not have beaten Mr. Nichols, but they certainly did nothing to stop the five who beat him or to assist him while it took an ambulance nearly half an hour to arrive at the scene. At least a dozen officers need to have their guns and badges taken away, charged, and prosecuted to the max, not least for callous indifference to life.

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There were two additional officers who have been dismissed from the department because they did absolutely nothing to help Tyre nor stop the officers horrible behavior.

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You are correct Michael "6 or so"... apparently at least two (2) were "Sheriffs" whatever that means in Memphis .... SUNDAY UPDATE: Two (2) MEMPHIS FIRE DEPARTMENT employees on the scene are being investigated as they both FD's had a contractual duty to provide medical aid & likely promptly transport even if they lacked the human decency to do so.

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The topic of Heather and Joanne Freeman’s most recent podcast was ‘constitutional sheriffs.’

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That was a fascinating episode!

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I'm gonna go with "county Sheriff's officers" as that is what the vernacular has come to mean. Whatever county Memphis is in will have both a city police presence and a county police presence (state police presence as well, but they're usually more focused on traffic enforcement).

I'm also going to go with their conduct being consistent with "acts of omission" as they both failed to intervene and failed to render aid.

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You are the expert. The Memphis City police department (PD) vs county Sheriff's officers is the same set up as in Los Angeles with LAPD & the LA Sheriffs Dept (LASD) handling the non LA cities & certain unincorporated areas.

I understand the 2 Sheriffs in question are under investigation. I think you are right about "acts of ommission" as the lesser charges against the ex-scorpions arise out of their official duties that were breached. Arguably. the ex-scorpions had a higher duty given their specific professional duties & status

SUNDAY UPDATE: Memphis Chief Police Davis is a past President of NOBLE, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. Note, there is a much broader natioanl issue here about the use "Elite" or specialized police units in major cities. Baltimore MD is just one example.

As to the county Sheriff's officers, the minute-by-minute timeline, the tick-tock, will be critical given the more than 20 minute delay before medical intervention & transport. I suspect their may be underlying rules & regulation applicable to this professional debacle. Also, two (2) Fire Department employees on the scene had a conractual duty to render aid promptly. Be Safe all.

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Amen.

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Jan 28, 2023·edited Jan 28, 2023

The facts of this case are freely available on every news outlet tonight.

Let's cut to the quick. Let's say what we really know happened. What we feel in our churning core is really "what happened," and not the dry recap of the attack.

What happened was a bunch of sadists with a God complex decided to pick on an innocent person, proving their own importance by causing terror at random, as they are paid and socially sanctioned to do. When this fellow human being did not submit to their brutalism to a submissive enough degree, and instead gave in to the pure instinct tearing through his body to run away from those threatening that same body and towards the woman who birthed it, the sadists decided that causing fear was no longer enough, instead pain and the ending of life was more appropriate and desirable.

It is was they wanted to do, and it is what they did.

"I hope they stomp his ass."

"Mama!"

We owe one thing to that man's soul, looking down on his destroyed body. We owe one thing to his son, sleeping in his bed, probably with a toy that Daddy gave him, unaware that of that moment Daddy's stable love will no longer be available during the rest of his time on earth. We owe one thing to his mother. How will that woman have another nightmare-less sleep again? We owe them one thing, and it's a biggie, but let's be honest, it's perfectly proportionate.

And that is to reevaluate our entire fucking society.

Because, you see, in a society which values "toughness" to such a degree, this depravity is simply the devestatingly unavoidable endpoint. Well, an endpoint that never ends, except for the lives of those murdered in the name of "that'll show 'em." Crime is roughly at a 30-year low, and yet crime is still somehow a potent election issue. The police kill many-fold more innocents than criminals kill the police, yet local police still have some of the highest approval rates of any arm of government. We don't want to enable people by paying for weak, soft things like social workers, we want to show people what's up by turning every cop car into a tank. We are so afraid of anyone getting away with anything, we give the monsters among us the green light to get away with everything.

It's so we can stay safe, RIGHT?

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Us whities can, for now. But the writing Is on the wall…

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Well said.

I do not know what has happened in law enforcement training since 2013 when I retired and stopped my active participation in developing and delivering policy and training. I do know that this was a smoldering issue in the last few years of my career, and one of the things that I taught when delivering "Survival Skills" training was this: The hardest thing you may have to do as a cop is to reach out and stop someone who has "crossed the line" from reasonable and justified force into unreasonable and unlawful force. This might even be your training officer, a senior deputy, or even your sergeant.

I got involved with teaching use of force when I realized that all of the fancy, well trained and practiced martial arts based moves that were taught did us ordinary graveyard cops no good at all; we needed easy, practical methods of overcoming resistance and taking people into custody. I taught justifiable force for the minimum amount of time necessary to overcome active resistance. I cannot say I was on the vanguard of that particular movement, but I was an adherent to that philosophy. What this philosophy morphed into was the "if I can articulate that I felt that I was in danger of serious physical injury then I can use "excessive" force to control the situation." It has created a mindset in our law enforcement that the slightest show of questioning or non-compliance becomes a severe threat to the officer, personally and individually thereby creating the justification for extreme uses of force.

It makes me sick to think that, at some level, I helped to create that mindset.

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Ally, from your description it sounds like you put everything you had into advocating the exact opposite of the crimes we are witnessing, i.e. as little force as possible to get the job done and keep everyone involved safe. If so, you deserve commendation rather than blame, although your having a more acute sense of our collective guilt is indeed an understandable human reaction.

I'm sure many people are safer today because of your training. I can't think of any training that would encourage people to commit this level of violence, or do nothing as it occurs. This is something psychologically deeper we are dealing with here, something collectively more broken.

Forget "Who would do this?" Let us focus on "Who wouldn't stop this?" My parents taught me in grade school that the bullies power comes from how no one stands up to them. If no one is willing to break the groupthink and become a target too, the bully WILL interpret this as permission and acceptance to continue. It is astonishing how quickly one person saying "wait, hold up!" can stop it all.

Grade school I learned this. Why do we have trained adults unwilling to do so, no matter what is in front of them? That is what I'd like to know.

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One of the things I taught was "If you EVER see me lose my cool, stand between me and the person I'm losing it against and say "I got this". I don't care if you're my recruit or my peer, you have a duty to intervene.

When I was working my part time court security gig, I was in the office/lunch area for the transport deputies and they had the TV on during the Chauvin trial. I used that opportunity (many of the young deputies assigned to transport were transitioning from corrections officers to patrol officers) to ask what they would do if they were one of Chauvin's trainees. Most of them said they would "do something"; one said "I don't care if I got bounced out of training, I'd get him off of him." That young deputy 5 years ago is now a detective and doing very well...

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Jan 28, 2023·edited Jan 28, 2023

That is what we all hope for, isn't it? That the tragedy will teach the lesson.

People are human. They lose their cool and mess up. You often need another human to pick up the slack. That requires everyone to possess some humanity. And be willing to act on it.

Your perspective is so valuable to the rest of us here, today especially. Take care.

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Thank you, Will. Your perspective is as valuable here, and I am glad to read your writing.

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Nice comment, Will. I agree, it really is time to reevaluate our entire fucking society.

And, I am struck by how rarely -- relative to the US -- these episodes of state violence against individual citizens happen in Italy, where I live.

Of course, it is much more difficult for citizens here to acquire firearms, as there are serious licensing requirements, so the police have no reason to feel they are in danger most of the time, and gun possession has not been "normalized" as it is in the USA.

Most people see the Carabinieri as normal public servants who can be a big help to citizens in distress. This despite the police policy here of setting up random road blocks to check drivers' documents, and police are often armed with intimidating and nasty-looking short-barreled machine guns hanging from neck straps. This may be a reflection of earlier periods when the government was putting down the Red Brigade terrorists and rival bands of mafiosi, but the atmosphere here is rarely charged with macho-ness the way it is in the States.

Of course, these are generalizations, and plenty of bad shit happens here, too, such as daily wife/companion killings which get a lot of national attention in the mass media, as they should. But believe me, Italians, too, are watching the Tyre Nichols murder videos with horror and wondering WTF is wrong with us, and I'm sure the same is true in most countries.

This is a moment of deep, deep sadness.

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deletedJan 29, 2023·edited Jan 29, 2023
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Funny thing: in an active military situation, targeting civilians is a war crime and is to be avoided. So considering themselves "the troops," still does not give cover to this continuing dynamic of brutality.

Reasonable people may disagree, but I've always found the thin blue line concept noxious, as it not only encapsulates the attitude that all of life is an unambiguous war between good people and bad people, but it appoints those on "the line" as the sole force ensuring the stability of the world. Furthermore, the flag positions them as the absolute center of America itself, an America made literally black and white. Combined with the very real trauma the job can entail, who wouldn't be at risk a paranoid sense of self importance when being surrounded with that philosophy. Essentially, it attracts people who are into it less for the "law" part and all about the "enforcement" part.

I had a neighbor down the street who I've never actually spoken to. He used to hang the thin blue line flag in front of his house, but has taken it down. He is surely one of two people: either a dedicated community servant who feels like he can no longer display pride in his profession, or an authoritarian who is paranoid about the libs that mostly populate the neighborhood. One is deeply sad, one is pathetic. I wish I knew which one is the answer.

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Will, I had a friend killed in the line of duty. From April 23, 2011 until about 2 years ago, I had first a COPS (concerns of police survivors flag, then a tbl flag (subdued national colors with a blue line for one of the stripes). I had a friend who told me how bad the tbl flag looked, and why. I researched for myself, and reacquired a COPS flag (black field with a wide blue line in the center across the long axis). That flag came down when Russia invaded Ukraine and was replaced with a Ukrainian flag.

I removed the tbl flag because it was designed to show support for law enforcement after the shooting of Michael Brown in Fergusson, MO. Your neighbor may have a similar bent but maybe not...

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Jan 31, 2023·edited Jan 31, 2023

I think this is a case where symbols and signifiers mean such differing things to different people, that when they come into contact with an issue where emotions run high, the received message can be quite different than the intended message. For instance, I don't hold many things too sacred, but I was raised with the idea that you just don't mess with the American flag, draw on it, tear it, let it touch the ground, etc. So any mixing of the stars and stripes with other symbolism rubs me the wrong way and reads as someone trying to take ownership of the American identity (for the same reason, I don't like the rainbow stripes one either, even though I belong to the LGBT community myself). So 1) the coopting of the tbl by, uh, followers of certain less savory schools of thought went together easily my mind, and 2) even before that I would have a reaction to the tbl flag that I would never have to the COPS flag, even though they both feature the same central element.

Of course I would never contest someone's right to hang any flag, or judge anyone's whole mentality by usage of any symbol. I suspect that my never-actually-seems-to-be-home neighbor simply decided they didn't feel comfortable being represented by the tbl anymore, and the most likely reason was not that they feared any sort of retaliation or vandalism, but simply decided it no longer sent the message that they wanted it to after being co-opted. Which is the thought I find sad, even though I don't miss walking by it.

Hope that makes sense, long and late as this response is. :)

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Ask your neighbor what it means to him.

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I like to think your explanation is a good one. My pride flag does not have a blue field with white stars, but it does carry the racial/bi/trans triangle pattern.

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It was Steve Schmidt’s post.

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