I could feel every Billy club blow to the head and every kick to the stomach that killed Tyre Nichols in that brutal beating by Memphis police.
I can still feel that knee to the neck that killed George Floyd in Minneapolis. I felt their pain because like them, I am a black man in America. And I realize that could be me some day. That could be my son laying on the ground getting pummeled, shot or choked out.
I was certain the beatings and shootings of unarmed and unthreatening black males would stop after the protests following the George Floyd murder by a Minneapolis policeman. I was wrong. They continue.
They continue because black lives do not matter.
They continue because a large segment of the population does not think this is a problem.
They continue because killing of black males carries as much tradition in this country as the Michigan-Ohio State football game.
They continue because of fear. Police fear blacks. Blacks fear the police.
Memphis Police Director Cerelyn Davis called the actions “heinous, reckless and inhumane.”
Police also lie, so we cannot take their word as gospel. Memphis police initially said Nichols was pulled over for reckless driving but walked that claim back by saying there was no evidence of a driving infraction.
One officer said Nichols reached for his gun, a claim not supported by the video. My father was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer who claimed he was trying to thwart my dad from stealing a car. That was a lie. He shot my dad on the driver’s side of his VW Volkswagen.
Even if Nichols was driving recklessly, that is not a death sentence.
Selling loose cigarettes should not be a death sentence.
Running away from police should not be a death sentence. But it is for black males.
These are modern day lynchings and they need to stop.
“I cried,” said Christopher Taylor of Memphis. “And that right there, as not only a father myself, but I am also a son. My mother is still living and that could have been me.”
Let me address one of your talking points. More whites are killed by police then blacks.
While that is true here is a statistic we don’t have.
How many unarmed white people are killed by police?
How many whites are killed by police when they pose no threat?
What percentage chance does a white person have of being shot and killed while fleeing police than a black person?
When police initiate special operations victims are overwhelmingly black.
I still remember STRESS, which was a Detroit Police decoy deployment that stood for Stop the Robberies Enjoy Safe Streets.
Police would station an undercover officer in the Cass Corridor (now known as Midtown) pretending to be drunk or with ropes of jewelry wrapped around his wrist and neck. A black guy would try to rob him and police shot the man dead. In a three-year period from 1971-74, 24 men were shot and killed during STRESS operations – 21 of them were black.
Operation SCORPION in Memphis was founded by Davis, the police Commissioner, in 2021 to target what she called hot spot areas in the city that had high murder rates and reckless driving. Residence complained of heavy-handed tactics by police.
Black Memphis residence were seven times more likely to be stopped and harassed than whites.
“We still want crime addressed in our communities, but we don’t need to kill innocent people to do that” said Van D. Turner Jr. President of the Memphis NCAAP branch. “
I do not believe a police officer wakes up in the morning hoping to harm a black male before his shift is over. However, I believe during times of stress and confrontation, it is easier to kill a black male than a white person. We have been viewed in this country as a little less than human. And it is easier to get rid of the problem with blows to the head or a gunshot.
Because of my previous life in radio and newspaper, I’ve had police in six or seven jurisdictions reach out to me and say they don’t want harm brought to me by comrades in their town or cities. They slipped me business cards and said to call if I am stopped.
They were from Walled Lake, Waterford, Grosse Pointe Woods, Detroit and the Oakland County Sheriffs.
Their messages were similar. Anywhere from 95-99 percent of the police they know are good guys who follow the letter of the law. But they hear talk sometimes in the locker room of cops who want to teach blacks a lesson.
They did not want me running into those guys, no matter how compliant I would be.
Many of you wonder why we have Black Lives Matter protests.
Why not All Lives Matter?
We already know white lives matter. We already know that blue lives matter. What needs to be stressed is that black lives are important too. When you kill a black male you are killing a brother, a dad, an uncle, or a husband. You are killing somebody who is loved.
You are also killing an avid photographer. Which was Nichols passion.
“My vision is to bring my viewers deep into what I am seeing through my eye and out my lens,” read a quote from Nichols, which appeared at his funeral on Wednesday.
Most of the beatings and killings of black males are by white cops. But Nichols was beaten by five black policemen. What gives?
There is an element of self-loathing in the black community. Black gangs have no problem killing other blacks for no reason. Police are no different. These black police were also products of a systematic brain washing by the Memphis Police Department. This beating seemed unnecessary, unprovoked, and unbelievable.
I hope I never must experience something like this.
Or my son.