National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial issued the following statement after watching the video of Tyre Nichols’ fatal beating at the hands of Memphis police:
“Excessive force doesn’t begin to describe the inhumane violence these officers inflicted on a terrified and defenseless young man who posed no apparent threat to anyone. My heart goes out to Tyre Nichols family, whose grief and trauma at this moment are hard to imagine.
“The officers weren’t defending themselves. They weren’t defending the citizens they were sworn to protect. They weren’t protecting property or stopping a crime in progress. This was violence for the sake of violence, a shocking disregard for humanity and decency. It’s indefensible under any circumstances but especially egregious coming from officers entrusted with public safety.
“This wasn’t simply a failure of policy; the department has clear guidelines on the use of force. The larger problem is the culture of brutality and a sense of impunity that still pervades law enforcement 30 years after the videotaped beating of Rodney King appalled the nation. Five officers behaving together in the same violent and lawless manner without even one intervening to stop it – apparently, without the slightest expectation that anyone would object – is clear evidence of a culture that tolerates violence and lawlessness.
“Public safety depends on trust; police brutality erodes that trust. The National Urban League developed 21 Pillars for Redefining Public Safety and Restoring Community Trust as a guideline not only for reforming policies and procedures, but for reimagining the relationship between police and the communities they serve. Departments must set clear expectations for integrity from the moment of recruitment and strictly enforce them at every step of the way.
“The National Urban League and our affiliates around the country are committed to working with police departments to achieve this lasting change.”