Police culture in America: protect the budget and serve brutality

What will finally make Black Lives Matter to you?

Once again, police body cam footage allows us to watch a man cry for his mother’s embrace as he is brutally beaten by the hands sworn to protect.

On Jan. 7, 2023, Memphis Police Department’s SCORPION unit pulled over Tyre Nichols in a traffic violation escalated by what I view as vicious thugs shielded in uniform and funded by the state. This may view this group as a force organized for the good and betterment of the community. Others see this group as a military presence with the mission of upholding racial tensions and class lines within this country.

The story of Tyre Nichols is one that has been told throughout the history of race relations in America. Now, one gets to see the abuse and beatings done by state-funded gangs, or police forces, with a clear view. The lawyers on behalf of the Nichols family report that the officers, responsible for keeping the peace, treated Nichols like a “human piñata” as he was left battered at the hands of police officers.

The officers surrounding the situation left Nichols’ body slumped over a police car as officers and other emergency personnel gathered. Every single one of these officers decided that checking for cameras and clearing up their side of the story was more important than administering care to a dying man. While Nichols loosely held onto his consciousness, officers recounted the beating they gave him, claiming they were “hitting him with straight haymakers” and that they “hit that man with so many pieces, and he still breathing.” It’s clear that police culture does not consider people as people. Instead, victims have been treated as punching bags for overdressed bullies.

We have been asking for an end to police brutality long before Martin Luther King Jr. declared that “We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.” Now, 60 years later, we are still left unsatisfied and victims of great horrors by our fellow man.

The city of Memphis stands as one of only three cities with a predominantly Black population where the total population is upward of 500,000. This inspired a specialized team known as the SCORPION unit, or Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods. This unit was predominantly Black and has since been disbanded following their murderous actions, showing that militaristic police culture extends beyond racial lines. These officers’ conscious beating showed what law and order means to them and which lives matter to this police state.

It is only now that we have the means to hold the six officers, two emergency service personnel and three fire department employees responsible for their reprehensible mistreatment of an innocent man. The death of Tyre Nichols represents a complete disdain for human life and care from those most highly entrusted to “protect and serve.”

Police reform once again becomes a hot topic in Congress as bills have already failed to address these issues. Politicians remain steadfast to their party lines in negotiations around the topic, ultimately leading to fatal inaction. It will take more than law to regulate the evils of police culture in America, yet as Dr. Martin Luther King said, “It may be true that morality cannot be legislated, behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless.”

We can only hope that Tyre Nichols is the last case of a senseless murder of an innocent man.

Post Author: Adam Porterie