‘We need justice’
Protests continue in Conn. in wake of Tyre Nichols beating-death video
Protests continued in Connecticut Sunday after officials released footage showing five Memphis police officers fatally beating Tyre Nichols at a traffic stop.
About 30 people gathered inside Summerfield United Methodist Church in Bridgeport to discuss the incident.
“What we saw displayed on television the other day is not emblematic of good policing,” state Sen. Herron Gaston, D-Bridgeport, told the crowd. “It is bad policing.”
Gaston, who is also the senior pastor at the church, said these events are often described as an “isolated incident.”
“This is not a sporadic incident,” he said. “This is something that’s pervasive.”
Gaston also detailed his interactions with police.
“I’ve been pulled over at least six or seven times right here as I’m pulling into the driveway of the church,” he said, adding police were “very rude” a couple of weeks ago until he told them who he was.
“But you shouldn’t have to tell the police who you are in order for them to treat you with dignity and respect,” he said.
Gaston told the crowd he plans to submit a bill that would require police to tell the motorist why they’re being pulled over during a traffic stop so “that interaction is a positive interaction from the very beginning.”
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told the audience he would return to Congress with a call for justice.
“What I’m hearing from colleagues all around the country is that the nation’s conscience has been called,” he said. “There’s a new awareness about the need for justice, and the conscious of Congress has been called, how we need justice demanded by the nation, by the community, by his family and they need and deserve that justice.”
In New Haven, the protest by the Party of Socialism and Liberation at the corner of Church and Chapel streets began at 4:30 p.m. Norm Clement, a member of the group took the lead, speaking through a megaphone to the crowd of nearly 100 people.
“It saddened me as it saddened everybody that we have to do this again, but it’s no surprise,” Clement said.
“We don’t get out here enough,” he said, referring to the turnout numbers at different protests.
Thomas Gilbertie, a Middlebury native and a student at Southern Connecticut State University, said the turnout was more than he expected. He said he tried to host a Black Lives Matter rally in his hometown, but the turnout was low.
Even though this case was Black cops against a Black man, Clement said, “It’s the police culture.”
“We all need to be organized to take them down,” Clement said.
“Justice for who?” Clement asked the crowd. “Tyre Nichols,” protesters responded.
Jamarr Farmer, a spokesperson for the group, mentioned incidents that happened in the New Haven area including the Randy Cox case and the Stephanie Washington case.
“New Haven Department, just like Memphis,” in saying the police chief came out to talk about “progress” like seatbelts polices after the Cox case. “That’s not justice,” he said.
Farmer called for more utilization of the Civilian Review Board to take charge of bringing change by using subpoena power.
An organizer said they will see how the afternoon goes before determining if they’re going to march somewhere.
Protesters rallied in Hartford and Manchester Saturday while state, municipal and police officials issued statements condemning the actions of the five officers,
one of whom is from Connecticut.
Memphis police said officers stopped Nichols, 29, for reckless driving on Jan. 7. On Friday, the city of Memphis released footage of the traffic stop, which later proved fatal, sparking outrage and demands for change across the country. Protests erupted in several major cities, including Memphis, Washington, D.C., and New York, and were mostly peaceful, according to NPR.
The videos showed officers pulling Nichols, a Black man, from his vehicle, then yelling and threatening him as he got on the ground. Nichols broke free at one point, after an officer threatened him with a stun gun and another said he would break Nichols’ arms if he didn’t put them behind his back, according to the video.
Other clips show officers chasing after Nichols before getting him on the ground again. The officers then repeatedly kicked and
struck Nichols with a baton and their fists as he screamed for his mother. He was then left propped up against a police car as the officers fist bumped.
Nichols, the father of a 4-yearold son, later died from his injuries.
In the wake of the fatal incident, the five officers, all of whom are Black men, were fired. The officers included Bloomfield High School graduate Desmond Mills Jr.
Mills, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith each face charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.