STATEMENT ON THE DEATH OF TYRE NICHOLS
February 1, 2023
The Association of Black Law Enforcers (A.B.L.E.) is deeply disturbed by the senseless death of Trye Nichols at the hands of Memphis Police Department officers. We grieve with his family, and with everyone who has been profoundly impacted by his murder.
We applaud Chief Cerelyn Davis for taking swift and decisive action in terminating the officers for the heinous violation of their oath of office. Too often, officers who engage in obvious police brutality are not removed from their police organization, further eroding a fragile public trust. Chief Davis’s decisive action should be seen as exemplary for responding appropriately to crimes committed by officers.
A.B.L.E. notes the demonstration of unity amongst police services around the world in condemning this lethal instance of police brutality. Particularly in Canada, where police leaders have moved from “…we don’t comment on matters that are subject to investigation or before the courts” to “we are deeply disturbed by what we see, and it’s wrong.” We look forward to and expect this continued demonstration of empathy wherever and whenever similar cases may arise in the future.
As we reflect on the life of Tyre, let us also be reminded of the critical work to be done in dismantling systemic anti-Black racism that is embedded within the culture of policing. Diversifying police services alone cannot eliminate the scourge of anti-Black racism – in fact, representation, while not adequately addressing systemic racism within police culture, only serves to have racialized officers behave consistently with the reality of internalized racism.
Anti-Black racism doesn’t singularly rely on the social identity of the individual who perpetuates it. In Canada, study after study, report after report, continues to indicate that despite commitments for change and pledges for reform, Black communities are overrepresented in use of force, traffic stops, arrest, and fatal interactions, in most jurisdictions. A.B.L.E. is calling on police services to move from words to actions in confronting and dismantling systemic anti-Black racism in policing. A.B.L.E. will continue to advocate for fair, equitable, and safe delivery of public safety that Black and all communities deserve, expect and are entitled to.
President, Association of Black Law Enforcers