Tyre Nichols Senseless Murder Demands Fundamental Police Culture Reform

The National Center of Civil and Human Rights expresses pain and outrage at the ongoing human rights violations committed by police officers in the wake of widespread demands for substantive police reform after George Floyd’s murder in 2020. Departments must heed the national call for reform, including instituting substantive training on protecting the human rights of all community members.  

Tragically, the abuse and murder of unarmed Black people by police continues. In January, Tyre Nichols – an artist and father to a 4-year-old son – died following a brutal assault from five Memphis police officers, nearly 100 yards from his mother’s home.   

We grieve for the Nichols family and join the national outcry for justice for Tyre Nichols’s death and for greater oversight of police departments. Importantly, law enforcement leaders must address the systemic racism embedded in their cultures and structures by incorporating human rights protections into law enforcement policies and practices.  

Instilling human rights norms and values into policing requires sustained human rights training to ensure law enforcement leaders and officers understand: 

  • The factors that put minority populations at risk for rights abuse at the hands of police  
  • How implicit bias impacts decision making at an individual level 
  • The importance of community policing and civilian oversight 
  • The unique requirements of policing in traumatized communities 
  • The history of policing in the United States, especially contemporary law enforcement’s origin as slave patrols and/or union breakers, and the role of police in enforcing segregation during the civil rights era 
  • The psychological impact of policing culture on individual officers 

As a human rights and educational organization, The Center and our partner, the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities (AIPG), recognize the crucial role of human rights training. We stand ready to address this crisis through our work with state and local police departments who seek to transform their cultures to protect the human rights and dignity of all people.  

We mourn the death of Tyre Nichols but remain determined to support solutions to help communities prevent future tragedies.