Statement on Tyre Nichols

Once again we are joined together in a cycle of grief and rage at police violence. The conditions under which Black people live under threat in this country seem to have no end. Tyre Nichols should be alive today. Our hearts ache for his family, for his child and for his loved ones. He was a son, a father, an artist, and skateboarder.

Tyre Nichols was also Black and disabled living with Crohn’s disease. Fifty percent of people killed by police are disabled, and more than half of Black and disabled people living in America have been arrested by the time they are 28 years old—double in comparison to white disabled people. We must acknowledge who Tyre was in totality if we are to ensure that all Black lives matter and that all Black lives are safe from state sanctioned violence.

We know the race of the officers makes no difference as the institution of policing is in and of itself anti-Black. Black officers in a racist institution can and will still inflict harm on our Black and brown communities. We know that prosecuting individual police officers only reinforces the idea that the system can give us justice and will do nothing to change the institution that has time and time again justified the murders of Black peoples by police. We know that neighborhood policing does not save us from the threat of police violence. We know that body cameras do nothing more than capture our deaths on film. In the murder of Tyre Nichols all of the reforms failed at the same time. We know that reforms do not keep us safe. Only abolition can prevent our deaths and only a multiplicity of community-based community-care responses can provide us with the safety and healing we demand.

The Detroit Justice Center grieves with our communities in Detroit remembering the lives of those stolen by police violence locally. However, we do not lose hope. We push forward championing legislation like the Breathe Act, fighting for community defined safety. The darkest hour is always before the sun rises. And no matter how dark it gets we know that we will rise leaving behind the remains of these antiquated institutions of Black death. Together we can and we will build the just futures we deserve because together we will demand them. Together we will build them. Together we will live.

-nikkita oliver, Associate Executive Director of Programs & Strategy