Was white supremacy a driving force in the beating of Tyre Nichols by Black police officers?

Tyre Nichols funeral
Tyre Nichols funeral

“REVOLT Black News Weekly” aired on Friday (Feb. 3) to discuss the case of Tyre Nichols, policing in Black communities and healing after being exposed to police brutality videos. Global news anchor Mara S. Campo led the episode titled, “In Justice For Tyre: Investigating The Memphis PD.”

She was joined by founder and executive director of Heal 901 Durell Cowan, founder of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York Hawk Newsome, civil rights activist Alfred “Shivy” Brooks, host of “The Gray Area” podcast Bryson Gray, therapist Dr. Vaughn N. Gay, and wellness practitioner Rachel Ponder.

Campo opened the show by discussing the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, who was savagely beaten by at least five Memphis police officers during a traffic stop on Jan. 7. He died three days later in a local hospital. 

A few weeks after the deadly encounter took place, five Black cops were terminated and charged with second-degree murder. They were a part of the now-disbanded SCORPION Unit, which was created to restore peace in crime-riddled neighborhoods. Two additional officers — including a white cop — were also relieved of duty. Van Jones told REVOLT, “This is about power. It’s not about Black; it’s about blue.”

Campo was later joined by Newsome, Brooks and Gray to dig deeper into the issues of policing in AfricanAmerican neighborhoodsNewsome said, “The culture of policing is racist.”

It’s been that way since its inception, since the fugitive slave patrols,” he argued. “I worked in a prosecutor’s office, and a lot of times it was the Black and brown officers who went harder than the white officers, so that they could prove that they’re Black — but not Black like us.”

Brooks agreed with Newsome and suggested that Black officers can be influenced by white supremacy. “I think what has to be understood about white supremacy is that it does not require the presence of Black bodies for it to be at play,” he advocated. In this case, unfortunately, we talk about policing being a systemic issue. Thus, the system is the issue and not always the agents who are proponents of what the system is designed to do.”

On the contrary, Gray said statistics have not shown that officers engage in white supremacy tactics. You would have to prove to me that in these rooms where these cops were trained, they had to be taught in some type of way to treat Black people differently,” he insisted.

Hawk interjected and stated, “There’s things called pattern and practice investigations that were conducted by the White House.” He continued, “They were ceased under… Donald Trump, which stated that certain precincts in sheriff’s departments throughout the country were operating in a racist way.”

Later in the show, Campo held a roundtable discussion with Gay and Ponder about the emotional and mental impact police brutality has on Black Americans. Gay warned that any time someone watches a video of police officers brutalizing an unarmed Black person, “Those memories get encoded into our brain.”

Our fight or flight response is actually activated whenever we experience a level of trauma to where we psychologically do not feel safe,” he explained. “Every time in the future that we see something very similar, it is automatically going back to that reference point, and that’s what’s actually triggering some of these emotional responses.”

Ponder chimed in and revealed that, in the past, she has not watched police brutality videos because she has “experienced PTSDafter being on the front lines as an activist. However, once Memphis authorities released body camera footage of officers beating Nichols, she said, “I wanted to see it for myself.”

“I wanted to know for myself why the officers got fired so quickly, and I wanted to see if it had anything to do with them being Black or if it was just something like a Rodney King situation,” she disclosed.

Our prayers are with the family of Tyre Nichols at this time. Watch a quick clip from this week’s episode up top. Plus, be sure to catch the new installment of “REVOLT Black News Weekly” on Friday, Feb. 10, 2022 at 5 p.m. ET via REVOLT’s app.