Havana, (Prensa Latina) After a lethal beating, the name of Tire Nichols joined the long list of fatalities caused by police brutality in the United States, whose toll, far from diminishing, increases year after year.
The 29-year-old Afro-descendant, a resident of Memphis, Tennessee, was brutally beaten on January 7, sprayed with pepper spray and beaten with a baton by five law enforcement officers who, additionally, deprived him of medical assistance for more than 20 minutes.
The images of the sore and bloody young man are moving, especially in the part in which he invokes his mother and says that she only wants to get to her house.
The man, allegedly arrested for reckless driving, was hospitalized but died three days later of cardiac arrest and kidney failure as a result of the attack.
The Nichols tragedy is just the most recent chapter in a scourge that the United States has not been able to rid itself of, despite the rejection it generates in its society.
According to a compilation by the Mapping Police Violence site, 2022 was the deadliest year caused by police violence since 2013, with an average of more than three people killed per day and around 100 per month, and an additional 31 deaths compared to 2021. when the murder of 1,145 people was recorded.
Of the total of 1,176 deaths last year, 132 homicides (11 percent) were cases in which no crime was alleged, 104 involved mental health or wellness check-ups, 98 involved traffic offenses, and 207 (18 percent) cent) for other allegations of non-violent crimes.
Afro-descendants, the analysis narrowed, accounted for 24 percent of those killed by law enforcement officers, although they only represent 13 percent of the population.
From 2013 to 2022, blacks were three times more likely to die from police violence than whites, and the inequality is particularly stark in some cities like Minneapolis, where police have killed black residents at a rate 28 times higher than the average. of white citizens, while in Chicago it was 25 times higher, the source reported.
Likewise, other reports indicate that, in California, for example, the police are more than twice as likely to use force against the Afro-descendant community during traffic stops.
A state board’s annual report also found that in 2021 law enforcement officers searched black individuals at a rate 2.2 times higher than whites, and that black youth ages 15 to 17 were frisked at a average almost six times higher than that of Caucasian adolescents.
Police Reform, or Cultural Change?
After his death, Nichols’ name joins other dark-skinned citizens who died at the hands of the police and sparked a wave of protests in the country in 2020, such as Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and George Floyd in Minnesota.
The debate about a reform in the forces of order is gaining ground, while some legislators consider the context opportune to introduce changes in the judicial system to deal with the problem.
“We call on our colleagues in the House and Senate to start negotiations now and work with us to address the public health epidemic of police violence that disproportionately affects many of our communities,” the Caucus Chairman stated. Congressional Negro, Steven Horsford.
Talks over such amendments broke down in 2021 after months of extensive discussions between then-Democratic Rep. Karen Bass, Republican Sen. Tim Scott and Democratic Sen. Cory Booker.
The latter declared after the incident his intention to renew the “legislative efforts to advance the reform”, while some news reports predict that the congressman will present a regulation for that purpose in the coming weeks.
Analysts estimate that a change in police protocols would be incapable of solving on its own the consequences derived from systemic racism and a continued abuse of power that victimizes the black population to a greater extent.
Sue Rahr, a former King County, Washington, sheriff and member of former President Barack Obama’s (2009-2017) Task Force on Policing, said specialized squads can develop an aggressive culture by viewing their work as a kind of warfare. in which “everyone in the community is the enemy.”
Proof of this is what happened to Nichols, paradoxically assaulted by officers who were part of a unit called Street Crime Operations to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods, and known as Scorpion.
Philip Stinson, a professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, said the police officers ignored and violated established procedures.
They didn’t really seem interested in handcuffing him, but in beating him up, he said, describing the lack of care suffered by the victim as “total disregard and indifference to the value of human life.”
The five Memphis police officers who beat Nichols have been fired and face criminal charges, some of them for murder, and the Scorpion detail has been disbanded.
Also, some legislators invited the parents of the deceased to attend President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, scheduled for February 7.
But this gesture does not comfort the families who lost loved ones at the hands of those who supposedly had to protect them, and it offers little peace of mind to thousands of people who today live in fear of dying for no reason, and feel insecure in the presence of law enforcement. .
Paul Butler, one of the professors at Georgetown Law School, summed up that in the United States “any black person who is aware of the news, who knows the story, feels anxiety near the police fence.”
This article is originally published on pressenza.com