Tyre Nichols was a passionate sunset photographer, skateboarder, and father to a four-year-old. He was loved by his community for his kind, gentle, and joyful demeanor. On January 10, 2023, he was brutally and unlawfully murdered by five Memphis police officers. After the arrival of medical personnel, it took an additional 22 minutes for an ambulance to arrive and for Tyre to get the medical care he required. Ultimately, it was too late, further showing the cops’ failure to fulfill their duty to render aid, underscoring their utter and appalling apathy.
We have witnessed events like this again and again through an endless cycle of police violence. After these tragedies, politicians and organizations frequently call for “justice,” campaigning on the promise of protecting communities from police brutality. It simply cannot be enough that the officers involved have been arrested and charged. There needs to be systemic change.
And let us be clear — there is no justice for the dead.
National police funding is at an all-time high of $215 billion, with $129 billion spent on policing and $86 billion on corrections. No amount of money can fix a system designed to subjugate and kill; increasing funding will only exacerbate these inadequacies. It is time to acknowledge that the most effective way communities are kept safe is through the people’s collective action — not through bloated police budgets at the expense of essential services from housing to health care.
As a group of young, diverse organizers, tragedies like these have become a part of our reality, and that fact alone is infuriating. As the video circulates throughout social media, know that you do not have to endure the trauma to feel the pain. Please do not feel pressured to watch the video. Instead, during this time, one of the priorities needs to be supporting Tyre’s family through their grief and healing.
If you want to take action, start at the local level. Be vocal at your local city or town council meetings and insist that our health, education, well-being, and safety are more important than police budgets. You may also attend protests, but please ensure you are safe and vigilant. Law enforcement is already out in full force, so try to hide your identity as much as possible by covering your face, tattoos, piercings, and anything else that could be used to identify you. Also, make sure you prioritize your physical safety. Be careful when navigating websites or social media circulating the video, and protect your mental well-being by ensuring video auto-play is disabled. You may also mute any keywords and turn off sensitive content.
Gen-Z for Change stands with the family of Tyre Nichols. In these difficult times, we are inspired by those who work to better our justice system while envisioning a more just system for the future.