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Lawmakers react to ‘brutal and violent killing’ of Tyre Nichols

(The Hill) – Lawmakers condemned the “brutal and violent killing” of Tyre Nichols on Friday night, after Memphis authorities released graphic footage of the traffic stop that resulted in Nichols’ death earlier this month.

“The brutal and violent killing of Tyre Nichols by officers sworn to protect the community is unconscionable,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said in a tweet. “Justice for Tyre Nichols must be swift and complete.”

The video of Nichols’ arrest on Jan. 10 showed the responding officers deploying pepper-spray and a stun gun against and repeatedly kicking and punching the 29-year-old Black man. Nichols can be heard yelling for his mother throughout the beating.

Five officers involved in Nichols’ death, all of whom are Black, were fired from the Memphis police department last week and charged on Thursday with second-degree murder and other crimes.

“A dangerous culture of violence has permeated far too many police departments in this country. Time and time again, it is lethal,” Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) wrote on Twitter in response to the footage. “Tyre Nichols should still be here today. We must change the culture that perpetuates these tragedies and bring those accountable to justice.”

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), the head of the caucus’s Policing, Constitution, and Equality Task Force, said the “vicious murder” of Nichols has left them “shaken to the core.”

“The utter lack of humanity on display in the video defies even the worst expectations,” they said in a statement. “As mothers, seeing Tyre call out for his mother is deeply painful.” 

“People are rightfully furious by what we’ve seen,” Jayapal and Coleman added. “That anger is justified, and must be directed toward demanding accountability and reform of law enforcement and the criminal legal system, including an end to the police culture of use of force.”

Many other lawmakers similarly responded to the footage with horror and a version of the refrain “Tyre Nichols should be alive today.” 

“Tyre Nichols should be alive today,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said in a statement. “My heart aches for his family, friends, and loved ones, who are dealing with an unimaginable loss. His death is a grave injustice. Those responsible must be held accountable, and we can’t stop there.”

“You do not need to see the video to know that Tyre Nichols should be alive today,” Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) said in a tweet. “I applaud the swift actions taken to hold those responsible for his killing to justice. However, police accountability must be the rule, not the exception.”

Many Democrats, including President Biden, called for the passage of police reform, particularly the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, in the wake of videos’ release.