The death of Tyre Nichols last month at the hands of five Memphis Police Officers was shocking. In the aftermath, the eyes of millions of Americans have been on Memphis. The news of the swift firings and arrests of the five Officers who killed him and the prompt filings of 2nd degree murder charges against all five have helped to temper the deeply-felt shock and righteous anger which have been and are being felt by so many. Not only in Memphis or the American South but all over the world.
The reactions of people everywhere and from all walks of life began pouring in as soon as the story broke. Much of it from even before Mr. Nichols passed in his hospital bed. People of Faith have reacted, of course, as have many millions regardless of whether or not they have any spiritual or religious beliefs or connections.
I think it’s accurate to say that many in the Faith Community have focused on this horrific and frightening incident more than most folks, in part because tragedies like this one, sad to say, are not rare and they’ve got long experience in working for Justice, equity and accountability when yet another ugly and tragic incident occurs. And though believers have seen many violent outbursts of brutality from the ranks of those whose stated mission is to serve and protect the public, this one was particularly egregious and shocking. Perhaps because there is video of most of the beating and so many people who’ve been following the story and have been working for Justice have seen it. It’s truly sickening, I could only watch about 30 seconds of it before I had to turn away.
Enough time has passed now–approximately three weeks as I write this–that responses are coming in from whole Churches, denominations, agencies and so on and they run the whole gamut of reactions and stances. And there are many thoughts, strategies and plans being discussed and put together in order to deal with the aftermath of this horrible situation. This article from Religion News Service shines a light on all of that and is quite helpful if you’re wanting to get a feel for what People of Faith are saying and doing in the wake of this tragic episode.
We must remain committed to crying out for and working for Justice. For Tyre. For all the others who’ve suffered violence at the hands of Police and others in positions of power. And for all the victims whose tragedies have not yet happened.
Ben Lawrence Basile
© 2023 Benjamin Lawrence Basile