Tyre Nichols’ funeral held in Memphis

As family and friends gathered to celebrate Nichols’ life, VP Harris called on Congress to pass legislation.

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Constantly capturing the beauty around him, Tyre Nichols wanted you to see the world through his eyes. He was a father to his young son, an avid skateboarder, community member, and as he describes it on his photography website, “your friend.”

On Wednesday, family and friends mourned Nichols at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, Tennessee. The 29-year-old man was killed in an act of police brutality earlier this month. The police body cam footage was released last Friday, sending yet another shockwave throughout the nation.

His mother said Nichols frequently visited Shelby Farms Park to skateboard and had a passion for taking pictures of sunsets and landscapes, according to an interview with CNN. She described her son as a “beautiful soul,” who tattooed her name on his arm and had a deep love for her sesame chicken dinners.

Nichols was a regular at a local Starbucks in Memphis, where he met up with friends to talk about football and his favorite team, the 49ers. He worked at FedEx, but outside of it his life was filled with capturing the memorable moments of life on camera.

Prominent speakers like Rev. Al Sharpton and Vice President Kamala Harris also took to the podium.

“This violence was not in pursuit of public safety,” Vice President Harris said in her eulogy Wednesday. “[Nichols] was entitled to the right to be safe.”

Harris ended her remarks by demanding that Congress pass the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, saying it is “non-negotiable.”

Her words echo outcries about his death that have reverberated throughout the country, including several protests in the Los Angeles area. Students across USC campus have been impacted by Nichols’ death.

“I feel like to see someone lose their life before your eyes is not normal and is something that we should stop, that we should stop circulating these videos,” said freshman SCA student Ifedotun Olarewaju. “It’s kind of become routine to hear about it. This was the first time I chose not to watch the video because I don’t want to further desensitize myself to it.”

Nichols’ mother expressed a similar sentiment.

“I don’t need a video to show me what they did. I saw the end results. My son is dead,” she said in an interview with BBC.

The circulation of yet another video of a Black man dying at the hands of police brutality has brought up questions of whether people are becoming more desensitized to the violence.

“Every minute of the day you’re getting beeps on your phone or you’re looking at CNN or there’s breaking news. And, you know, nine times out of ten, it’s always something bad.” said USC Annenberg Professor Miki Turner, the 2022 National Association of Black Journalists’ Journalism Educator of the year.

“So I can see, you know, how students are becoming desensitized,” Turner said. “And I think part of it is a defense mechanism to preserve their mental health.”

Still, Turner said that she hopes students will recognize the weight of what they are exposing themselves to and acknowledge the effects it may have on them later.

For some students though, the more things seem to stay the same, the harder it is to process.

“I’m just disappointed by the lack of change over the past few decades, despite a lot of people pushing back and trying to collaborate to create change,” senior global health student Rachel Lundstrum said.

As friends, family and people across the country honored Tyre Nichols this morning in a heartfelt celebration of life, it also sparked calls for police reform and lasting change.