Mass. leaders, law enforcement officials react to released video of Tyre Nichols’ deadly arrest

In the hours leading up to the release of the graphic police video depicting five officers viciously beating Tyre Nichols, Boston city leaders urged restraint and civility in the wake of the images they knew would turn stomachs.

The footage shows the Black officers beating the 29-year-old FedEx worker for three minutes in an assault that the Nichols family’s legal team likened to the infamous 1991 police beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King. Nichols died three days after the January 7 confrontation.

Tyre Nichols death: Memphis Police Department releases video of Nichols’ arrest

Shortly after 6:00 p.m. Reverend Jeffrey Brown invited those in the shadow of the newly erected Martin Luther King Jr. Embrace Statue on the Boston Common to join hands and pray.

“God we tire of business as usual,” orated Brown, flanked by civilians, city officials and police joined in linked arms. “So we stand here together determined to reframe this narrative so that people will understand Tyre’s life mattered. That our lives matter.

“As we stand together with our hands in one another, we will draw strength from each other. To be able to hold our heads up high together and change this world together,” said Brown, morphing the air with his hand as if he were holding fresh clay.

At 7:00 p.m. Memphis city officials released a video of the graphic arrest. The video captures the officers holding up Nichols as others punch him. Once subdued, police prop the bloody and dazed Nichols up against the side of a police car. Minutes later, Nichols falls to his side, only getting up once officers lift him again.

Although Boston Mayor Michelle Wu had not seen the video when she spoke at Nichols’ vigil, she spoke confidently regarding what it would show.

“We know the footage is going to be released tonight. And we know what it will show. That five police officers took his life during a traffic stop,” Wu said. “Tyre Nichols was a father. And a son. A second-shift worker. A skater. And a man who loved to watch the sunset.”

“What happens in Memphis doesn’t just impact Memphis. When horrific acts by those who are sworn to serve and protect everywhere take place, they undermine the trust in those that are sworn to protect and serve everywhere,” said Wu. " To all of our communities but especially to the Brown and Black men of Boston, you deserve to feel and to be safe in your cars and in your homes. In our streets, in our stores. The places where you work and live and celebrate. Please know that we see you.”

Earlier Friday, Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey and Reverend Kevin Peterson acknowledged the traumatic emotions the video would evoke.

“Now is a time across this Commonwealth for us to communicate with honesty and understanding, and to show care, empathy and love. We will be guided by our continued conversations with faith leaders and community members, and we will commit to the work we need to do as a nation, and as a state, to address systemic profiling and racism, and protect basic human rights,” said Healey.

“As the images of the video come to light this evening, we urge the people of Boston to remain composed,” said Peterson, founder of Boston-based New Democracy Coalition. “Voice your discontent if you need to. Express your anger if you feel compelled but challenge your rage in seeking justice. We should embrace non-violence over the instinct of striking back with violence.”

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

Peterson expected the graphic video to resonate amongst Boston’s Black population.

“Memphis is a thousand miles away but for every black man and black woman in Boston, Tyre Nichols represents the possibility of their fate at the hands of local police,” said Peterson. “Still we must have hope and seek justice and push forward reform.”

He also called the incident “yet another indicator of how far we must move toward achieving justice for poor and black people in Boston.”

Reverend Peterson hopes that Boston’s Friday night will remain peaceful - and perhaps even become a point of progress in the city.

“We call for calm and composure and respect for the local police. We also call for police to use restraint. And we call for greater reforms in the Boston Police Department.”

The Massachusetts State Police released a statement Friday afternoon condemning the actions of the five Memphis police officers and echoed the desire for any Boston demonstrations to remain peaceful.

“The brutality alleged in these indictments and supported by the evidence described by Tennesse authorities represents clear criminality and an utter breach of the public trust,” said MSP Superintendent Colonel Christopher Mason.

“We understand that members of the public may wish to exercise their rights of expression in response to this incident. We urge anyone who does so to act peacefully and with respect for the law and their fellow citizens. In the event that there are demonstrations, the State Police will protect the safety, property and rights of all demonstrators and the public at large alike.”

“The Boston Police Department sends our deepest condolences to the entire family of Tyre Nichols. We share their sadness and outrage at this unnecessary loss of life. We and anyone capable of compassion understand how wrong this incident was and why it evokes anger and frustration,” added Boston Police commissioner Michael Cox in a statement.

Massachusetts Law Enforcement agencies respond to the death of Tyre Nichols:

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