‘Change Needs to Occur’: Locals Outraged By Police Killing of Tyre Nichols

The Jan. 7 videos showing five Memphis police officers beating Tyre Nichols to death stunned the nation. At Diablo Valley College and in the broader East Bay, many people say that more needs to be done to address systemic racism in the criminal justice system.

“As a black man in America I fear for my safety, and it shouldn’t be like that,” said Jalen Melancon, a DVC student and running back for the Vikings football team.

“It’s not about black, white, brown. It is how blue views black. We need to do better,” he added. “Change needs to occur.”

Nichols’ life was cut short after a violent traffic stop by officers in the Memphis Police Department. The officers beat, tased and screamed at Nichols in videos taken by body and street cameras, which have been seen by millions across the world.

All five officers involved in Nichols’ death were later charged with second-degree murder, and were suspended from the police department.

After the lethal assault on another black man in police custody, people gathered across the nation to pay their respects and demand justice, including in the Bay Area. Hundreds gathered throughout the city of Oakland to protest Nichols’s murder and mourn his loss.

During a Feb. 6 tribute held at Lake Merritt, Alice Ortega, an Oakland native, expressed outrage after imagery of the beating was released by officials. 

“The video was disgusting and horrifying. It  filled my mind with rage,” said Ortega. “I just can’t believe it was real and things like that occur to this day in America.”

Born on June 5, 1993, Nichols was the youngest of four siblings. He grew up in Sacramento and was known for his creative eye, love of photography and skating. He had been employed and had a four-year-old son. 

“Tyre was a beautiful person, and a loving father he was,” said RowVaughn Wells, Nichols’s mother. ““He was a good boy. No one’s perfect but he was damn near.”

All five former officers pled not guilty on Feb. 17, and are awaiting trial.