US Vice-President Harris to attend funeral for Tyre Nichols

Mourners hold a vigil for Tyre Nichols, the Black man who was fatally beaten by Memphis police officers, at a skatepark in the North Natomas neighborhood near where he grew up, in Sacramento, California, U.S. January 30, 2023.[Reuters]

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton will be among the mourners Wednesday at the funeral of Tyre Nichols, whose death earlier this month after being beaten by police once again focused attention on police brutality.

Nichols’ mother and stepfather, RowVaughn Wells and Rodney Wells, invited Harris to attend the service at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, Tennessee. She expressed her condolences in a phone call with the family on Tuesday.

“The persistent issue of police misconduct and use of excessive force in America must end now,” Harris said in a statement Friday, the same day police released video of the January 7 traffic stop and beating that led to his death.

Sharpton is set to give the eulogy at Wednesday’s funeral. He gathered with family members late Tuesday at the Mason Temple Church of God in Christ in Memphis, where the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his final speech the night before he was assassinated in 1968.

“This is holy ground. And this family now is ours and they’re in the hands of history,” Sharpton said.

Also expected to attend Wednesday were Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor, and Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd. The deaths of Taylor and Floyd at the hands of police in 2020 sparked widespread protests in the United States about racial injustice.

Five Black officers have been fired and charged in connection with the death of Nichols, who was also Black. Two other officers have been disciplined, while three emergency responders have been fired.

The Memphis Police Department also disbanded a special unit that targeted violent criminals in high-crime areas that included six of the officers involved.


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