During his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, Joe Biden recognized the family of Tire Nichols, a 29-year-old black man who died three days after being beaten by a group of police officers in Memphis last month.
“There are no words to describe the heartbreak and sadness of losing a child,” Biden said
Mr Biden has made police reform one of his key pledges, but activists and observers say he has been a “consistently inconsistent” ally on civil rights issues, such as The independent has reported.
He failed to meet an earlier goal of passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act by May 2021, and again called on lawmakers to pass federal police reform during his speech Tuesday.
“Imagine having to worry about whether your son or daughter is coming home from a walk down the street, playing in the park or just driving,” Biden said. “And when police officers or departments violate public trust, we must hold them accountable.”
Nichols’ parents stood to applaud the president during the emotional moment of the speech.
They were among more than a dozen relatives of police brutality victims who attended, guests of First Lady Jill Biden and the Congressional Black Caucus as Nichols’ murder sparked a national conversation about police action in a way that has not been seen since George’s murder. has not occurred in 2020 Floyd.
Caucus members also wore black pins reading “1870” in white text, commemorating the year of the first known police killing of a released black American man, Henry Truman, in an effort to shed light on the murders of black Americans by police officers.
Body camera footage released by Memphis officials shows a large group of Memphis Police Department officers forcibly pull Nichols from his car and beat, kick and taser him repeatedly, until he sinks motionless against a car.
The footage also featured officers bragging to each other about their exploits and exchanging stories about how hard they beat Nichols. He died in hospital three days later.
Six agents – Preston Hemphill, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith – have been fired from the Memphis Police Department. The last five are also charged with manslaughter.
Three firefighters were also fired.
Footage showed a large crowd of first responders talking for several minutes as Nichols lay against a car with no medical treatment.
He died three days after being arrested, and a private autopsy showed he had “extensive bleeding”.
The Biden administration has made a point to offer its condolences to the Nichols family, with the president calling RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, the young man’s mother and stepfather, and the vice president speaking at Nichols’ funeral.
“This act of violence was not in the interest of public safety. It was not in the interest of public safety,” she said at the ceremony in Memphis. “Didn’t he also have a right to safety?”
She urged Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a bipartisan police reform bill that passed the House of Representatives in 2021 but stalled in the Senate with Republican opposition. The bill, named in honor of the black man killed by Minneapolis police officers in 2020, was co-authored by then-Senator Harris.
“Let the memory of Tire shine a light on the path to peace and justice,” Ms Harris said in her brief remarks.