This was the emotional tribute after his death
(CNN Spanish) — After being postponed for a few hours due to winter weather, the funeral of Tire Nichols was held this Wednesday, who died at the age of 29 after Memphis Police officers stopped him at a traffic stop and beat him.
Nichols was hospitalized following his arrest on January 7 and died three days later from his injuries.
Due to this crime, five Memphis Police Department officers were fired after an internal investigation and face criminal charges. In addition, three firefighters were fired and two more police officers were disciplined for Nichols’ death.
The funeral organized by the Nichols family was attended by several local and federal officials, including Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States, and also people from the black community who have been victims of police violence in the country, such as Philonise Floyd, the brother minor of George Floyd – who died in May 2020 after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck and back for more than 9 minutes.
The ceremony took place at the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, located at 70 N Bellevue Boulevard.
The Rev. Lawrace Turner, senior pastor of the church and secretary-treasurer of the Board of The National Action Network, a civil rights advocacy group, officiates the ceremony.
Tire Nichols’ mother’s call to action
“Tyre was a beautiful person and for this to happen to him is just unimaginable,” his mother, RowVaughn Wells, said through tears at Nichols’ funeral.
Wells called for action, specifically for the passage of the George Floyd Police Justice Act.
“There shouldn’t be any other child who suffers like my son,” he said. “We have to get that law passed, because if we don’t, that blood…that next child that dies, that blood will be on his hands.”
Tire Nichols’ sisters share a poem they wrote for him
During the funeral, his sisters shared memories of him.
One of them recalled when she had to take care of Tyre: “He never wanted anything more than to watch cartoons and a big bowl of cereal, so it was pretty easy to take care of him,” she said.
The sister reflected on when she found out that Nichols had died. “I see the world showing him love and fighting for his justice, but all I want is my little brother back,” she said through tears.
Another sister read a poem she wrote in memory of her brother, titled “I’m Just Trying To Go Home.”
“I’m just trying to get back home, is that too much to ask? I broke no laws along this path. I skidded through barriers, designed to hold me back. I’m just trying to get back home, where love is strong and smiles are warm, Like the sunsets coming out of me in the coldest of my storms I’m just trying to get home I hear the sirens I see the flashing lights The directions are clear black skin to the left blue skin to the right I’m just trying to get back home. Don’t I deserve to feel safe? Canes, plates, boots, lights shining against my face. I’m just trying to get home. Does anyone hear the pain in my scream? The struggle in my breath. God answered, ‘Come home, my son, now you can rest,'” he read.
Vice President Kamala Harris’ message
Harris, speaking directly to the family of Tire Nichols at his funeral, said: “Americans mourn with you.”
“Mothers all over the world, when their babies are born, pray to God that when they hold that child, that body and that life will be safe for the rest of their days. Yet we have a crying mother and father the life of a young man who should be here today,” she said after being called to the stand by the Rev. Al Sharpton.
He said Nichols’s family had lost their loved one “at the hands and feet of people who were on a mission to keep them safe”, adding that the deadly confrontation “did not occur in the interest of public safety”.
In addition, Harris called on Congress to pass the “George Floyd Police Justice Act,” which she co-authored on the original bill when she was a senator.
The Vice President commented: “As Vice President of the United States, we demand that Congress pass the ‘George Floyd Police Justice Act.’ Joe Biden will sign it and we must not delay and we will not be denied. It is non-negotiable.”
Originally introduced in 2020 and again in 2021, the law would establish a national registry of police misconduct to prevent officers from avoiding the consequences of their actions by transferring to another jurisdiction.
The law would ban racial and religious profiling by federal, state, and local law enforcement, and would revise qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that critics say protects law enforcement from the surrender of accounts.
The bill passed the Democratic-controlled House twice, in 2020 and 2021. But it never went anywhere in the Senate, even after Democrats won control in 2021, due in part to disagreements. on qualified immunity, which protects police officers from being sued in civil court.
Recognition to the families of other black people who died at the hands of the police
Delivering the eulogy for Tire Nichols, the Rev. Al Sharpton brought the families of other Black people killed by police to their feet in support of the Nichols family.
Sharpton appealed to the families of George Floyd, Botham Jean, Eric Garner and Breonna Taylor.
Sharpton also recognized Keisha Lance Bottoms, Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee, D-Texas, Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee, and Vice President Kamala Harris, all of whom were present at the service.
Both Floyd’s and Taylor’s deaths sparked calls for police reform and triggered protests.
In March 2020, Breonna Taylor was killed in a botched police raid on her apartment.
George Floyd died at the hands of police two weeks after Taylor’s death grabbed national attention. Images from video cameras showed that an officer – in an attempt to restrain Floyd – knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes.
“How dare they”
Also delivering the eulogy, Al Sharpton criticized the five black police officers who were allegedly involved in his beating to death.
“There is nothing more insulting and offensive to those of us who fought to open doors than for you to walk through those doors and act like the people we had to fight to get you to walk through those doors on your own. You did not come to the Department of Police. The police chief didn’t get there by herself. People had to march and go to jail, and some lost their lives to open the doors for you. And how dare you act as if that sacrifice was made in vain,” Sharpton said.
Sharpton renewed his call for police to be held accountable when they use excessive force.
Sharpton referred to Nichols telling Memphis police officers that he had done nothing when they pulled him out of his car after a traffic stop.
“The man said, ‘I haven’t done anything.’ They went ahead anyway,” Sharpton said. “Why are they going ahead? Because they feel there is no accountability.”
He said people will continue to fight for justice and “will not stop until we hold them to account and change the system.”
“We understand that you need to deal with crime, but you don’t fight crime by becoming a criminal yourself,” Sharpton said. “You don’t fight criminals on the street by becoming a criminal yourself. You don’t fight gangs by becoming five armed men against one unarmed man. That’s not the police, that’s criminals.”
He called for the ‘George Floyd Police Justice Act’ to be passed so that police officers “think twice” before “shooting someone unarmed”.
Nichols’ family lawyer makes a ‘call for justice’
The family’s lawyer, Ben Crump, made a “call for justice” during the funeral and appreciated the work of local activism in Memphis.
“It’s the people on the ground, on the front lines, that make the difference,” Crump said.
“When we make the call to action, it’s really a plea for justice. It’s a plea for Tire Nichols the son, it’s a plea for justice for Tire Nichols the brother, it’s a plea for justice for Tire Nichols the father, but, above all, everything is a request for Tire Nichols the human being,” he said.
“That’s what we’re going to get for Tire Nichols,” Crump added. “Her legacy from him will be one of equal justice.”
Crump also highlighted the case of Breonna Taylor, saying that both Taylor and Nichols share the same date of birth: June 5, 1993.
They highlight the work of Tire Nichols as a photographer
For Tire Nichols, photography was a form of personal expression that writing could never capture, writing on his photography website that it helped him look “at the world in a more creative way.”
Although he did everything from sports action photos to bodies of water, landscape photography was his favorite, he wrote. “I hope one day people can see what I see and admire my work based on the quality and ideals of my work,” she added. He signed the message: “Your friend, – Tire D. Nichols.”
At his funeral, several photographs of Nichols were displayed in a montage alongside photos of him and the protests that followed his death.
Here some of his photographic work:
With reporting from CNN’s Jamiel Lynch and Christina Zdanowicz