U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and George Floyd’s brother will attend the funeral in Memphis on Wednesday for Tyre Nichols, the young African-American whose fatal beating by black police officers shocked the country.
• Read also: Tire Nichols Arrest: Three Memphis Fire Department Members Fired
The 29-year-old man was arrested on January 7 by agents from a special unit in Memphis, in the southern United States, for a simple traffic violation according to the police. But beaten so badly that he became unrecognizable according to his family, he died three days later in hospital.
The case had made the authorities fear a social conflagration comparable to that which had followed the death, under the knee of a white police officer in 2020, of George Floyd.
Philonise Floyd, one of the latter’s brothers, will also be present at the funeral, according to the law firm representing the family of Tire Nichols.
“On February 1, the Vice President will travel to Memphis, Tennessee, to attend the funeral of Tyre Nichols,” the US executive said in a statement.
Ben Crump, the lawyer for the family of Tire Nichols – who also represented the Floyd family – said in a press release that the vice-president made this trip at the invitation of the parents of the young man.
In a phone call he described as “full of emotion,” “the vice president was able to console Ms. Wells (Tire Nichols’ mother, editor’s note) and even help her smile. Tyre’s parents invited Vice President Harris to the funeral tomorrow, and were pleased that she accepted their invitation,” said Ben Crump.
For his part, President Joe Biden plans to receive members of the parliamentary group bringing together African-American elected officials Thursday at the White House to “discuss legislation on police reform and other common priorities”, declared Olivia Dalton, an executive spokesperson.
“President Biden is determined to do everything in his power (…) to ensure that our criminal justice system lives up to expectations of impartial justice (…) and dignity for all” , she added.
The harrowing footage of Tyre Nichols being arrested and beaten by officers was shown last week, without cuts, by the country’s biggest channels.
The five police officers involved were fired and charged with murder. The SCORPION unit to which they belonged, which aimed to reduce the number of illegal activities in sensitive neighborhoods by deploying more police there, was dismantled.
Three firefighters were dismissed in connection with the facts and two other police officers suspended.
On Wednesday in Memphis, the Reverend Al Sharpton, a figure in the fight for civil rights, will deliver the funeral oration for Tire Nichols at the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church.
Service is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. local time.
In addition to George Floyd’s brother, Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, will also attend, according to the law firm.
Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American, was shot dead in the middle of the night in her Kentucky apartment in 2020 and became an icon of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
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