Memphis, Tenn. (TN Tribune)–The Memphis Branch of the NAACP held a press conference in conjunction with the Tennessee State Conference NAACP on Sunday, calling for action in response to the death of Tyre Nichols. The leaders called for those involved in the traffic stop that led to Nichols’ death to be terminated and prosecuted, and also called on lawmakers to pass police reform legislation at both the state and national levels.
During the conference, NAACP Memphis Branch President Van Turner made these demands two days after the release of a video showing Memphis police officers pepper spraying, tasing, and beating Nichols during a traffic stop. The video sparked three consecutive days of protests and added to the ongoing national debate over police brutality.
Turner emphasized the need for swift justice and changes in police practices to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. He stated that the NAACP Memphis Branch would continue to push for accountability and reform in the law enforcement community.
“If you were an officer or first responder and you sat there and watched this young man die and you did nothing to help resuscitate him, you did nothing to give him aid, you’re just as culpable as the people who beat him down and killed him,” Turner said. “We want justice, and we want them brought to justice.”
Turner and Tennessee State Conference NAACP President Gloria Sweet Love released the statements regarding former Memphis police officers Desmond Mills, Demetrius Haley, Justice Smith, Emmitt Martin and Teddarius Bean being charged with second-degree murder.
“Although we are pleased that the charges have been filed, we strongly urge the U.S. Department of Justice to continue its investigation. The accused former officers were reportedly members of the Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods (“SCORPION”) Unit. The Memphis Police Department and its SCORPION Unit must be thoroughly investigated and monitored to ensure that all police officers abide by the law. We expect the police to enforce the law, not violate the law. We seek accountability and justice,” Sweet Love stated.