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Disumanità a Memphis

Disumanità a Memphis

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David A. Graham su The Atlantic parla dell’omicidio di Tyre Nichols a Memphis e delle condizioni in cui è successo.

The police officers who fatally beat Tyre Nichols must have known their actions were being recorded, but that hardly seemed to deter them.

Even before the city of Memphis released video Friday evening of the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols, it seemed the footage would be horrifying. Defense attorneys compared it to the Rodney King beating in 1991, a comparison that now rings true, but the Memphis police chief and the head of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation similarly said they were appalled by what they’d seen. Cops often remind critics that their job necessarily entails violence, so when seasoned law-enforcement officers react this way, it’s telling.

They were right to be appalled. Though the public might have started to become accustomed to de facto snuff films of people dying at the hands of police, this video is shocking, showing officers wantonly beating a 29-year-old Black man. If they did not intend to kill him, they showed little hesitation in beating him nearly to death and little remorse after they’d finished. Five officers have been fired, and all five have been charged with second-degree murder. All of them were part of a vaunted “hot spot” policing unit called SCORPION, established only in 2021.

One of the more remarkable things about the video is that it exists. Footage like this is both essential to bearing witness to violence and practically unbearable to watch. Memphis released four clips, three of them from body cams but the fourth from a permanently installed surveillance camera, apparently part of a citywide network called SkyCop. Though it hasn’t proved especially effective as a crime-fighting tactic, the system is ubiquitous, unmissable, and roughly as dystopian as it sounds: Nearly anywhere you go in Memphis, you can see the blue lights of the system twinkling above you. That means the officers who beat Nichols surely knew they were on camera. (…)


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