Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man and FedEx driver in Memphis, Tennessee, was brutally beaten by Memphis police. Pulled over two minutes away from his house on Jan. 7, he was beaten so severely that he succumbed to his injuries three days later.
A week in advance of the body camera and street camera footage being released by Memphis police, the five officers responsible for the killing were fired, and their names and photos were released to the public. The day before the footage was released, all officers were charged with the second-degree murder of Tyre Nichols, a FedEx worker, as well as other charges like aggravated assault.
This response from the state was uncharacteristic compared to the standard response to a police murder. The five officers fired and charged are all Black, and they were not afforded the same legal impunity that white officers who murder Black people have been given. There are countless examples of police departments, so-called “police unions” and courts, bending over backwards to protect white cops for racist lynchings.
The fact that the five officers who killed Tyre Nichols are Black does not make this crime any less brutal or any less of an issue of racism. The Memphis Police Department, like every police department across the U.S., is an institution of white-supremacist violence and capitalist-class rule. Whether the perpetrators of this violence were Black or white officers, the result is that yet another Black person is slain, and white supremacy is maintained.
We must not see racism merely as a manifestation of personal prejudices and hate by white people toward Black people, but rather racism is a system of structural oppression — bigger than any set of individuals involved. We must understand that racism is inseparable from the capitalist socioeconomic system. Merely requiring sensitivity training for police or hiring more Black police officers will not end the violence, as is evident by this killing of Tyre Nichols.
Fighting racism must go hand in hand with fighting the capitalist system that perpetuates it. The racist violence of the capitalist system permeates our society from police violence in our local communities, to the for-profit mass-incarceration system, to the genocidal military-industrial complex. Workers World Party is in solidarity with all those in the streets fighting against white supremacy, police terror and state violence.
Justice for Tyre Nichols! Abolish the police! Smash white supremacy!