The death of a black man at the hands of black police officers in Memphis Tennessee has reignited the debate over race and policing in the United States.
President Biden called upon Congress to implement police reform at his State of the Union Address, after a video of Tyre Nichols’ fatal traffic stop was released.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle rose to applaud his bereaved parents who were in the audience, but legislation has so far stalled in Congress.
Biden says, “Let’s commit ourselves to make the words of Tyre’s mom true. Something good must come from this, something good. Folks, it’s difficult, but it’s simple. Let’s come together to finish the job on police reform. Do something. Do something.”
Nichols’ mother and stepfather, who sat in the audience, brought their message to the heart of American political power. They received a standing ovation from both sides of the aisle, a moment striking for its rarity.
Some experts believe that even if new laws were passed, they may not be enough.
Assistant professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, Andrea Headley says, “Memphis Police Department did implement a lot of new reforms. Right? They had de-escalation training. They have body cameras. They have a diverse police force. Right? All of the reforms that we’ve been asking for, they had a lot of them. And yet this still happened. It makes me want to take a step back and think about really restructuring and re-incentivising and reimagining what policing should look like as a whole rather than kind of these incremental reforms that we’ve done historically.”
GRAPHIC CONTENT | The mood in Memphis, US following murder of Tyre Nichols: