Tyre Nichols vigil outside Nashville City Hall: 'Divest from policing'
Oluwatobi Odugunwa chanted “Power!” in response to the call “Fight for it!” — along with several dozen people gathered in Public Square Park on a chilly Saturday evening.
They were there to remember Tyre Nichols and others killed by police, and to share their belief that these cases illustrate why police departments across America should be defunded and, ultimately, abolished.
“I’m here to spark some hope inside me,” Odugunwa said. “I’ve been close to tears every day now because the group of officers that killed Tyre are all Black. It’s further proof that the system itself causes people to dehumanize even those that look like them.”
Black Nashville Assembly, the organizers on Saturday's event, formed about a year ago as part of the Southern Movement Committee to organize Black people to transform Nashville through political engagement.
Twenty-eight days ago, Nichols was brutally beaten to death by a group of Memphis police officers who have since been fired and charged with second-degree murder.
Though this happened three hours away, organizers and attendees at Public Square Park said they believe officers in Nashville and across the nation are trained in similar environments.They hope the case sheds a light on the deep-seated racism inherent in the system, which they say should be redesigned to abolish police departments and focus on social services.
“Justice means we commit ourselves to radical, systemic change and commit to the making of a better world,” said organizer Maxine Spencer. “The issue we have here is about policing and the violence that is inherent in it. It is time that we divest from policing. What good are these guns doing that affordable housing could not?"
Body cameras and diversity training don’t work, organizers said, because the agencies are inherently racist.
Local lawyer: Remember about Eric Allen
Nashville attorney Terry Clayton told the group he's dismayed by the lack of community concern about a fatal police shooting in Mt. Juliet which is being investigated by the District Attorney’s office.
“Everybody’s asking me about what’s going on in Memphis, but no one is talking about the murder — by a police officer — of Eric Allen,” Clayton said. “African Americans are being pulled over routinely just because they’re Black.”
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Tyre Nichols vigil outside Nashville City Hall: 'Divest from policing'