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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Tyre Nichols’ parents to attend State of the Union address


Candles burn at a makeshift memorial after a community vigil for Tyre Nichols at Tobey Skatepark in Memphis, Tenn. on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023.


By MARK WALKER


The parents of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who died after being beaten by police officers in Memphis, Tennessee, will attend President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address next week, the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus said earlier this week.


Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., who heads the caucus, said the parents had accepted his invitation to watch Biden deliver the nationwide address before Congress next Tuesday outlining his priorities for the coming year.


“It’s important for them to be here in the gallery that night to listen to the president,” said Horsford, who did not mention the parents by name. “I have also called for a meeting with the president and White House officials to talk about how we’re calling for this issue to be part of the State of the Union address.”


Biden, who has called the case a test of “whether or not we are the country we say we are,” spoke with Nichols’ mother and stepfather, RowVaughn Wells and Rodney Wells, last week and has renewed his call for Congress to pass a police overhaul bill that stalled in the Senate during his first year in office.


On Friday, videos of police officers kicking Nichols in the head, beating him with a baton and pepper spraying him after a traffic stop on Jan. 7 were released to the public. The videos show Nichols being beaten despite showing no signs of fighting back. He died three days after the encounter.


Five police officers were fired by the Memphis police this month, and then charged last week with second-degree murder in connection with Nichols’ death. Two more officers have been put on administrative leave.


On Monday, city officials said they had also fired three members of the Fire Department — two emergency medical technicians and a lieutenant. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office has relieved two deputies of duty pending an investigation into their involvement in the encounter.


The death led to protests in Memphis and scattered around the country calling for those involved to be held accountable.


Horsford said bad actors could not be allowed to continue roaming the streets with a badge.


“I don’t care what party you are from or what region of the country you are in. I don’t care what your ideological bent is,” Horsford said. “All of us should agree that we need to root out bad policing wherever it exists.”

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