At a funeral service in the US city of Memphis, hundreds of people remembered the African American Tire Nichols, who was killed by a brutal police operation last month. At the same time, demands for reforms were raised. In addition to the bereaved, Vice President Kamala Harris and relatives of other victims of police violence attended the commemoration in a church. The funeral service was broadcast live on television. Harris said the violence was perpetrated by people who should have been protecting Nichols.

The black man was brutally beaten during a traffic stop in Memphis, Tennessee on January 7th. The 29-year-old died of his injuries in hospital three days later. The case sparked protests in several cities and reignited the debate over police brutality.

Five black police officers involved in the operation have been dismissed from duty. Charges were brought against her. The five men are charged with second-degree murder and aggravated assault. Other officials have been released from duty. Two paramedics and an ambulance driver also lost their jobs for not providing adequate care to Nichols.

Register of police misconduct required

Harris used the memorial service to call for legislation to be passed to better protect against police violence. It provides for a national register of police misconduct so that police officers can no longer get off so easily. It will also ban law enforcement agencies from profiling based on ethnic and religious criteria. So far, the law has failed in the Senate.

Civil rights activist Al Sharpton said the fighting will not stop until those responsible are held accountable and the system changes. “We understand the need to fight crime. But you don’t fight crime by becoming a criminal yourself.” Attorney Benjamin Crump said that while this doesn’t bring the Nichols family back, it can further advance the fight for equality.

In the USA, the police have long been criticized for their extremely ruthless approach, especially when it comes to traffic controls. Often the victims are black. In the past, brutal operations have repeatedly triggered violent protests. The death of the African American George Floyd in May 2020 led to nationwide demonstrations and sometimes violent riots. At that time, a white police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck until he died. The perpetrator has since been sentenced to life imprisonment.