Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao urges calm ahead of Tyre Nichols beating video release
OAKLAND -- Ahead of Friday's scheduled release of the video showing the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police officers, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao urged citizens to be peaceful during any protests.
In a statement, Thao said she could not imagine the pain of Nichols's family seeing a video of their loved one brutally beaten, and it was her hope that the swift charges against the officers who killed him would bring a measure of justice to his family.
"I know all of Oakland stands with them today," said Thao.
Thao said it was understandable people across the country are angry and disgusted, but urged everyone to heed the request of Nichols's mother to refrain from any violent acts.
"Tyre's mother said last night, 'I want each and every one of you to protest in peace,' and I urge all Oaklanders to respect her wishes," said Thao. "We stand with Tyre Nichols' family."
The Oakland Police Department also issued a statement regarding the release of the video.
"The women and men of the Oakland Police Department are deeply troubled and disturbed by the released video involving Tyre Nichols and members of the Memphis Police Department," the statement read in part. "We stand with our community in denouncing this incident and all incidents of police brutality. Those who engage in this type of behavior have no place in our profession."
The full statement from the OPD is available online.
Oakland police has increased staffing through the weekend for both Lunar New Year events as well as to allow for demonstrations should they occur.
Other Bay Area figures were also going public with their reaction to the video.
"We continue to witness these horrific images of young Black men being beaten and murdered by the very people who are sworn to serve and protect all of us," said Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco branch of the NAACP. "While the five officers who killed Tyre Nichols during a routine traffic stop have been charged with murder, we cannot escape the fact that we see these crimes at the hands of the police day after week after month. Black brutality is as evil as white brutality. Our political leaders must step forward and stand up for laws that bring true justice, accountability and transparency in policing, and ends the culture of near-zero accountability that currently exists."
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott released a statement that said in part:
"The tragic death of Mr. Tyre Nichols after force was used upon him by five Memphis Police Department officers after a traffic stop is extremely disturbing. What I and everyone else saw on the video images reflect a disregard for the sanctity of human life and is the antithesis of the oath, we as law enforcement professionals, were all sworn to uphold. This incident again raises the pervasive issue that has occurred for generations — and continues to occur — regarding using force on people of color (specifically Black and brown men). Those of us who have chosen policing as a profession all have a responsibility to make the difficult and courageous decisions necessary to change this narrative for the better. I applaud and support the decision and swift action taken by Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis to terminate the involved officers for what she described as physical abuse against Mr. Nichols."
In June 2020, Oakland saw several nights of violent protests following the death of George Floyd, murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin who knelt on his neck for nearly 10 minutes as other officers watched. Floyd's killing triggered nationwide and global protests against systemic police brutality against Black and Brown people.
Oakland was one of several Bay Area cities to see violent protests, vandalism and looting following Floyd's death. The Oakland Police Department said some 200 businesses were looted and vandalized, and 137 arson fires were set throughout the city. The violence affected police response to other violent crimes in the city; one of five homicides during that time was related to incidents of looting.
In addition, an anti-government militia extremist used the cover of ongoing George Floyd protests near the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Oakland to shoot two federal security agents, killing one. Former Air Force Sergeant Steven Carrillo pleaded guilty to the murder of Officer David Patrick Underwood and the subsequent murder of Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller during an ambush of deputies in Ben Lomond.
In June 2021, Oakland police acknowledged nearly three dozen allegations of misconduct against officers involving the use of tear gas during the four days of protests were sustained by the department. The findings resulted in disciplinary actions ranging from written reprimands to suspensions from duty.
Oakland's Department of Violence Prevention supports a number of organizations devoted to community healing and restoration. To learn more about those, please visit: https://www.oaklandca.gov/resources/community-healing-restoration.
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