This article is about the very serious topic of Tyre Nichols and police brutality. Before I get started, I want to point out how all the cable networks aired the beating as if it were a Super Bowl. It’s very sick how they monetize Black death, Black pain, Black destruction and Black agony. I thought for a minute there CNN was going to start selling merch. I know a lot of Black people who did not watch the Tyre footage because they’ve seen this show before. They know too well how it ends.
We have a serious problem in this country. It dates back to the 19th and 20th centuries when Black people were lynched and people showed up in droves to watch the spectacle. If, after all the media attention, all the consumption of this story, all the money and millions of dollars that have been generated off of this story, there is no justice for Tyre Nichols, we deserve a zombie apocalypse. There are no ethics, there’s only money. Black pain sells.
In an attempt to keep things tight, I’m going to use some words that keep us on track and those words are 19, confrontation, naive, playing dumb and home.
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It took exactly 19 days for the police to not only launch a federal investigation but for those officers to be fired and then for them to be charged. 19. I never heard of such swift action taken in a case. Amazing how the wheels of justice start turning when the climate is right, when there are Black people on the chopping block. They hit the nitro button and the car went … ZOOM. That’s what happened to the wheels of justice. They quickly turned over because we had five Black officers. And I want to make it very clear: I’m happy. I’m happy that the wheels have moved quickly. We want the wheels to move quickly in all cases.
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I’ve covered stories for the last 10 years on police brutality, and this is the swiftest I’ve ever seen it carried out. I’ve seen it take years just to have them investigate a situation. Just to take a look at it. So this is amazing how quickly it moved. And for people that don’t understand why Black folks might say, “Hey, this looks a little racist,” you need to only know that this is unprecedented, the swiftness of this, the way this is happening, and in this particular case, racism is working for us. Don’t get it twisted. We are happy that they threw them to the wolves. We want white officers and Latino officers and Asian officers also thrown to the wolves. So what did we learn from this? We learned that these officers do not have the complexion for the protection from the collection. Shout out to Paul Mooney. Rest in peace. There will be no thin blue line to protect these officers.
I see no GoFundMe’s. I see no “Blue Lives Matter.” I see no “We stand with the blue” in their futures. So for all you Black men out there who want to become officers, and Black women too, take a nice long hard look at this. You may bleed blue, but when it comes down to it, your ass is Black. You are a BLACK officer. Justice is coming for you.
Now, I chose confrontation because that’s what was written in the report. They said that Tyre Nichols and these five officers had a confrontation. I didn’t know the working definition of confrontation was one person being used as a human piñata crying out for their mother. I thought it was two entities clashing together. Two powerful foes of the same or similar strength about to get it on. In the police report, this full-on beating is classified as a confrontation, the result of which somehow Tyre Nichols “lost wind.” A shortness of breath occurred.
They haven’t done any autopsy yet, but I’m pretty sure they’re going to discover Tyre had brain damage. Tyre Nichols’ breath wasn’t shortened, his life was shortened by the brutality of those officers. These Black officers need to understand, here’s the bus, here you are, and rightly so. Once again, I’m very happy that’s happening to these officers. I want the bus to happen to violent officers in all cases.
Naive is when you don’t understand what’s going on, you have no real call of reference. You’re deluded, unaware, or ignorant to what’s happening. You’re unsophisticated. You don’t understand, sort of like when you hear cops say, “Give me your hands” when they already have your wrist. Sort of like when a cop is yelling out, “Lay down” and you’re already laying down. And you thought, “cause the cop said ‘lay down,'” Tyre isn’t laying down though you can clearly see he’s down. Even worse, you naively defend the officers by saying he should just listen.
Naive because you don’t understand the cops routinely know they’re being filmed and will make audibles that don’t make sense to distract from what’s actually happening. This is verbal camo at use while they’re brutalizing someone. They’re saying things like, “He’s going for my gun” when you can clearly see he’s not going for a gun, but what’s being said is to justify the actions on the tape. Naive.
Naive would be looking at this police chief, Miss Cerelyn Davis aka CJ Davis, and not realize she’s part of the problem. Not only is she part of the problem, she put together the unit that has caused the brutality and then has the audacity to make the face, the Sheryl Lee Ralph face — don’t get me wrong, I love Sheryl Lee Ralph. Chief CJ makes the Sheryl Lee Ralph face. Her expression says she doesn’t understand how brutal those officers are when they were put together to do just that. Be brutal. Chief Davis comes from another department in Atlanta, the Red Dogs, who were similarly brutal, but because she’s a Black woman and she could put on the Sheryl Lee Ralph face, she hopes you’ll be naive and give her a pass.
Naive would be the person that doesn’t see through the CJ facade. She is not only part of the problem, she’s an orchestrator of the problem. She helped create the problem. Don’t get me wrong, those officers chose to do what they did, but let’s not act like they’re operating within a vacuum. The SCORPION unit operated in this matter. She oversaw the UNIT.
Playing dumb is what you would have to be doing when you hear an officer say, “I hope that they stomp the shit out of him” and not understand that’s against Tyre’s constitutional rights. That’s what one white officer says. A Black officer responds, “Huh? What?” And he says it again because he doesn’t care. He has his bodycam on. He says, “I repeat. I hope they stomp his ass.” Now, that’s the white officer who we’ve heard very little talk about. If you don’t think it’s a problem that we have officers that are hoping that other officers brutalize citizens, you are playing dumb because you know that’s against constitutional rights.
If you listen to the rhetoric online from fools you’ll hear some say “cops used to always beat people and it was OK, now everyone’s woke.” You are playing dumb. You enjoy this system of brutality that’s been beset upon Black people. Depending on the reports that you use, Black Americans are between 2.5x and 3.2x more likely to be killed by cops. America is over 60 percent white therefore white people are pulled over more often, yet we are killed by cops more often. So, what does that tell you? You would have to be playing dumb not to realize there’s racism embedded in the system. How do you get an outcome like that if there isn’t racism embedded in the system? Until it impacts you, it’s not a problem.
Now, to those folks, particularly my white folks who don’t understand how this could be race-related when there are Black officers and they’re beating a Black man. What you must understand is that the very foundation of policing in America is built upon racism. That’s how it came to be. That’s what it is. The first policemen were slave catchers returning Black people to their masters. Those was the first police. That’s where it came from. What’s a good analogy? Here’s one: All carpenters work with wood. Doesn’t matter what color the carpenter is, if he’s a carpenter, he works with wood. If you are a police officer, it doesn’t matter what color you are, you’re working with brutalizing Black folks because that’s what policing does. It brutalizes Black folks. It’s built on a legacy of brutalizing Black folks.
If you don’t get that by now, after all we’ve seen with the advent of social media, you’ll never get it. You’re intentionally not getting it, thus you’re playing dumb or you’re just bigoted, it’s one or the other. Ain’t a whole lot of options. We don’t got time to play with you. It is what it is. Own it. Own it.
The tragic case of Tyre Nichols is a stark reminder that Black Americans are at risk regardless of the color of the officers. It’s not about the color of the officers, it’s the mentality of the officers. It’s the purpose of the officers, not the color of the officers. Those five police officers are Black, but their blood is blue. They were operating under the guidelines and with the full backing of the Memphis Police Department. They didn’t just get together and decide to go out and bust heads. It’s what they do. Did they look like they weren’t operating in unison to you? Did they look like they were just making things up as they went along? Do you really believe they’ve never done this before? Is that what you think? If so, are you playing dumb?
Our last word is home. People say “Tim Black, where was Tyre running to? Why was he running from the officers?” He was running because he was trying to get home. When Tyre Nichols was last caught, he was only 200 feet from his mother’s home, 200 feet when he was shouting out “Mom, mom.” He thought it was possible she could hear him. Tyre Nichols was not able to make it home. He will never come home, but we could try to reimagine policing in a way where more young Black men can make it home. The problem is not getting better, it’s getting worse. If we don’t stand up to it, there will be more of these.
The paramedics should also be investigated to also be charged. They did not render aid to Tyre Nichols. The white officer who was seen on camera wishing that Tyre Nichols was stomped to death, he should also be brought up on charges. I don’t know what charges you give him, but you give him something. The police chief, CJ Davis, she should also be brought up on charges. I don’t know what charges, figure it out. All should be held accountable. I have no doubt in my mind these officers will be convicted but will there really be change? Will there really be change? That’s the question because if we look at this like it’s an isolated incident involving just these five officers, we overlook the systemic issue. If we can’t see the systemic issue at play here and realize what we’re doing for policing ain’t working, and if it results in this type of activity, we can’t allow it in our society.
My name is Tim Black. Share this with a friend. That’s your job. We need change.
Tim Black is an entrepreneur, author, activist, show host, comic, public speaker, and founder of TTL Media, which produces the daily “Coffee with Tim Black” and the nightly “Tim Black at Night”™ shows. Both shows cover the day’s trending topics built on a foundation of trusted journalism with a cup of comedic entertainment since 2013. Twitter: https://twitter.com/RealTimBlack Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RealTimBlack Medium: https://medium.com/@TimBlackTV LinkTree: https://linktr.ee/timblack
Images: The screen at the Smoothie King Center honors Tyre Nichols before an NBA basketball game, New Orleans, Jan. 28, 2023. (AP/Matthew Hinton) / Video image shows Memphis police officers talking after Tyre Nichols was brutalized, Jan. 7, 2023. (City of Memphis via AP)