Chicago activists infuriated, exhausted after Memphis police release Tyre Nichols body cam video

Saturday, January 28, 2023
'We're tired': Chicago reacts to Tyre Nichols video release
Several Chicago protests were held after Memphis police released the Tyre Nichols body cam video Friday evening.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago officials and police were prepared for the Tyre Nichols video release by Memphis police Friday evening, and while many in the city were deeply upset and angered by what they saw, no major protests materialized.

Officials said they are closely monitoring events in the city t in the coming days. The video was released by Memphis police around 6 p.m. CT.

READ MORE: Memphis police release Tyre Nichols videos

The Tyre Nichols video was released by Memphis police Friday showing the brutal beating on body cam footage.

For many, the story is exhaustingly familiar.

"We're tired of being murdered, tired of being beaten, tired of being chased," said Rabbi Michael Ben Yosef.

Activists protested in small groups around the city. For many, this video triggers the memory of so many deadly police encounters, including here in Chicago.

"To add insult to injury we have officers that look like us that still beat us and kill us. That's a horrible tragedy to have to contend with in a community that you live in," said one woman protesting outside Chicago police headquarters.

WATCH: Tyre Nichols' mother and stepfather react to video release

Tyre Nichols' mother and stepfather sat down with ABC News to discuss the public release of the video showing five Memphis police officers beating their son during a traffic stop.

"We make no distinction from the color of a cop who kills. They shamed the badge. They shamed the department. They shamed public service," said activist Eric Russell.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot wrote in a statement, "Tragic incidents like these not only send ripples of anguish across our country, but further erode trust between law-enforcement and communities, especially those that are Black and brown."

"It's clear that there is much more systemic work that must be done. In the meantime, my prayers continue to be with Tyre's family, friends, community as well as the other residents of Memphis as they continue to cope with this unimaginable loss," Lightfoot added.

"As our nation grapples with the release of another horrific video of senseless violence against a Black man at the hands of police officers, my thoughts are with the loved ones of Tyre Nichols," Governor JB Pritzker said in a statement. "Tyre was a father and a son, a hard worker devoted to his family. He deserved the privilege of seeing his son grow up and spending his life with those who love him. He deserved to live."

Invoking the names of Adam Toledo and Laquan McDonald in the fight over what he called institutional racism, Pritzker added, "We must recommit ourselves to pursuing real justice and peace in the name of Tyre Nichols and so many others who never had their stories told."

Sharon Fairley, who helped implement civilian oversight for Chicago police after McDonald's murder, said some of those changes are playing out in Memphis, like the quick release of the video.

"But we have all learned, really the hard way, that it's much better to be transparent and as quickly as possible," she said.

"The Horrific video we just witnessed unfortunately is much bigger than the brutal MURDER of young man in Memphis, rather the reality of the violent culture of America out of control law enforcement and the failure of Real National Police Reform," Fr. Michael Pfleger said following the release of the video.

"The criminal conduct displayed in the video released today is a betrayal of the public trust, a betrayal of a sacred oath, and a betrayal of all the men and women who serve the cause of justice and public safety. We condemn the abhorrent acts of those now charged and we commend the swift action of our peers at #TBI as they seek justice for Tyre. ISP will not only pray, but will work for justice and peace," Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly said in a statement.

Nichols' family made an appeal to the public Friday for protests to be peaceful and productive.

"We do not want any type of uproar," Rodney Wells, Nichols' stepfather said. "We do not want any type of disturbance. We want peaceful protest."

"I want to say to the five police officers that murdered my son, you also disgraced your own families," said Rowvaughn Wells, Nichols' mother.

Nichols' family members and their lawyers said the footage shows officers savagely beating the 29-year-old FedEx worker for three minutes in an assault that the legal team likened to the infamous 1991 police beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King.

The video is over an hour long. Nichols died three days later.

"This young man, by definition of the law in this state, was terrorized. Not by one, not by two, but by five officers who we now know ... acted in concert with each other," said attorney Antonio Romanucci, who represents Nichols' family.

Romanucci, who is based in Chicago, is part of the family's civil case. He alleges a pattern of misconduct within the Memphis Police Department, including among the so-called "Scorpion Unit" that the five former officers who are charged with Nichols' murder were a part of.

Memphis Police Director Cerelyn Davis described the officers' actions as "heinous, reckless and inhumane," and said that her department has been unable to substantiate the reckless driving allegation that prompted the stop.

She told The Associated Press in an interview that there is no video of the traffic stop that shows Nichols recklessly driving.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.