‘It’s a travesty’: Lexington civil rights activists speak out after violent arrest of Tyre Nichols

Lexington civil rights activists speak out after violent arrest of Tyre Nichols
Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 10:35 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Lexington civil rights activists are speaking out after the video of the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols was released.

“It’s a travesty,” said Lexington-Fyaette NAACP President Whit Whitaker. “A travesty of justice. And it’s a blatant injustice.”

Just hours after the country watched the disturbing police video of the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols, Whitaker calls for nationwide police reform.

“It’s not a race thing. It’s a systemic issue,” said Whitaker. “If people would stand up against these injustices, if you are a part of these systems, a part of the law enforcement systems, you are complicit if you don’t stand up and go against this. There is no way with five officers there that not one officer couldn’t stand up and say, ‘hey, this is wrong.’”

The video shows there were even more officers there than the five arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

“Being protectors of the people, they are charged with being fair and just. Regardless of the oath they took or the blue line they stand behind. Or the immoralities they justified in their minds or their characters,” Whitaker said. “They failed everyone. Especially this young man, especially his family, especially his friends.”

Back in 2020, awareness of these issues increased across the country after the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police officers. Former Lexington Police Chief Anthany Beatty notes the officers accused of killing Nichols were fired and charged much more quickly than in the previous cases. But says this is something every chief in every department across the country should be learning from, especially as most are facing unprecedented shortages.

“It still means you can’t reduce your criteria or lessen expectations of the officers. Who they will be as an officer, who they will be as a human being. The criteria has to remain the same. It’s about who you hire. The psychological testing, the background testing is critical. The follow-ups, the mentoring, all the things that come along with a lengthy training period,” said Beatty.