Police 'complicit in upholding white supremacy': Is BLM right about the Tyre Nichols killing?

Gerald Herbert / AP

Fact Box

  • On January 7, 2023, Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black motorist, was pulled over for reckless driving. After trying to flee from the scene, Nichols was beaten by five Black police officers and died three days later in the hospital. The officers each face several charges including second-degree murder.  
  • In response to Tyre’s death, Black Lives Matter asserted, “ALL police represent the interest of capitalism and impel state-sanctioned violence. Anyone who works within a system that perpetuates state-sanctioned violence is complicit in upholding white supremacy.”
  • White supremacy describes a belief system of White privilege, which means White people are superior to other races and should have dominance over them.
  • According to the 2022 Police Violence Report, 100 people were reportedly killed by police while unarmed.

Joanna (Yes)

The death of Tyre Nichols is a fresh reminder of a police centuries-old culture of aggression where Black people are dehumanized. Contemporary law enforcement has roots in slave patrols established to capture runaways and suppress uprisings in 18th-century Virginia. Even after abolishing slavery, the police continued to assert White dominance by enabling and actively partaking in lynching Black people and convict-leasing

While lynching and convict-leasing may be extinct now, the police's role in upholding white supremacy is unchanged. 

A 2022 Reuters investigation uncovered that many US police instructors endorsed and interacted with White supremacist hate groups. There's even more research, government audits, etc., indicating the prevalence of white supremacy in law enforcers. Even police calls uphold white supremacy in the US. It's not uncommon for racist individuals to contact the police about Black individuals simply carrying on with their day. These calls 'operate as maintenance calls to white supremacy,' limiting the freedom of Black Americans. 

Similarly, the difference while policing in areas inhabited by Blacks shows racial bias. Daanika Gordon, an assistant professor of sociology in the School of Arts and Sciences, uncovered that 'predominantly Black neighborhoods are simultaneously over-policed when it comes to surveillance and social control, and under-policed when it comes to emergency services.'

Yes, there are reforms made to curb police violence, but they're not upheld. Proving this is two facts: One, the death of Tyre Nichols and other Black individuals at the hands of the police. And two, the racial disparity in state prisons shows how Black Americans are incarcerated at five times the rate of White Americans due to discriminatory policies and practices.

Curtice (No)

The death of Tyre Nichols is tragic. Blaming White supremacy for Tyre Nichols’ death would be laughable if it were not so tragic, as the facts show. Yet, the Left is obsessed with it and finds it everywhere, even when there is no evidence to support it. 

Tyre Nichols was Black. All five of the police officers involved in the incident are Black. The Memphis police chief is also Black. Certainly, the Memphis police department is not a bastion of White supremacy. It is certainly rational to place the blame where it ultimately lies—at the feet of the police officers and the chief of police. Yet, for some, it's easier to blame 'the system,' or 'White supremacy,' to excuse the actions or minimize blame for the actual perpetrators, even if they happen to be black.

Perhaps, there is another place where some blame resides–the policies that promote diversity at all costs, including lowering standards to meet some predetermined diversity quotas. Add to that the BLM-led defund police movement that became so prominent in large Democratic-led cities over the last few years. Major Democrat politicians and leaders have called to 'defund the police,' sucking support from these vital institutions. This has led to law enforcement becoming an undesirable profession, keeping many qualified individuals from considering it.

Yet, police departments still have positions to be filled. If fewer top candidates apply, then it only stands to reason that those who might not have made the grade in the past are now prime candidates. It's wrong to rationalize or excuse bad and criminal conduct on the part of these police officers by fictionalizing 'White supremacy' as the culprit.

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