Tyre Nichols: As video released of motorist’s beating to death, more protests over police brutality likely

Memphis police chief warned on Friday that the video of officers beating Mr Nichols was ‘perhaps worse’ than Rodney King footage

Protests took place in several cities across the United States on Friday night after videos were released of police in Memphis, Tennessee, beating to death a motorist who had been pulled over at a traffic stop.

More demonstrations are likely to take place against police brutality over the weekend following the death of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old black man earlier this month.

In Memphis, protestors blocked traffic on a major motorway close to the city shortly after the release of the video footage.

In New York, at least one person was arrested after protesters smashed the window of a police vehicle in Times Square. About 200 protestors gathered for a time in the middle of 46th Street in the city, blocking traffic.


US president Joe Biden had been fearful that the release of the video footage on Friday night could have led to violence.

The chief of the Memphis police had warned on Friday that the video of officers beating Mr Nichols was “perhaps worse” than the infamous footage of Rodney King, an African American man being attacked by police in Los Angeles more than 30 years ago.

The subsequent acquittal of four Los Angeles police officers, three of them white, in relation to the attack on Mr King resulted in five days of rioting in the city.

Police in Memphis in recent days had sought to prepare the country for the graphic nature of the video footage of Mr Nichols being pulled from his car and then subsequently beaten by police.

Five Memphis police officers, who are black, have been sacked and charged with second degree murder.

On Friday night two more police officers, from the nearby Sheriff’s department, were placed on paid administrative leave.

Mr Biden said he was “outraged and deeply pained” to see the video footage of police beating Mr Nichols which led to his death.

The White House had been concerned that the release of the video footage could lead to rioting and violent protests across the country.

The White House said senior Biden administration officials had held talks on Friday with mayors in cities such as New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta about potential protests after the video footage was released.

“Participating mayors shared their perspectives on how important it is to recognize the pain felt by communities across this country, be prepared in advance with a game plan to provide adequate community support, and to reinforce the importance of peace and calm during these difficult moments”, the White House said.

The White House said officials stressed that the president believed peaceful protests were appropriate " but violence is never acceptable”.

The president said in a statement on Friday night that the footage of Mr Nichols being punched, beaten with a baton, kicked and sprayed with pepper spray by police officers would “leave people justifiably outraged”.

“Those who seek justice should not to resort to violence or destruction. Violence is never acceptable; it is illegal and destructive. I join Mr Nichols’ family in calling for peaceful protest.”

Mr Biden said he had spoken with RowVaughn Wells and Rodney Wells, Mr Nichols’ mother and stepfather, on Friday afternoon.

“We must do everything in our power to ensure our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment, and dignity for all. Real and lasting change will only come if we take action to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again”, the president said.

Mr Biden also told reporters that he would again urge the US congress to pass police reform legislation which had been put forward after the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis in 2020.

The bill, which would ban certain policing techniques as well as improving training, was backed by Democrats in the House of Representatives. Mr Biden said the legislation had been blocked by Republicans in the US senate.