About 40 people gathered to honor Tyre Nichols’ life and memory at Plymouth United Church of Christ in Seattle on Saturday night, singing hymns, holding candles and praying.
Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, died after Memphis, Tennessee, police viciously beat him this month. Video released Friday shows five police officers, who are also Black, chasing and pummeling Nichols and leaving him on the pavement, propped against a squad car, as they fist-bump and celebrate.
Nichols died from his injuries three days later. The five officers have since been fired and now face charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.
A couple of thousand miles away in Seattle, mourners assembled at the church “to speak the truth” about Nichols’ death, said the Rev. Kelle J. Brown.
“Seattle is not so far away from Memphis,” Brown said. “We have the same trauma, the same terror, the same challenges.”
Brown and other church leaders led vigil attendees in gospel readings and delivered sermons, remembering Nichols as a “dynamic and generous and beautiful human.”
“Fifty-five years ago, MLK was killed in Memphis,” said the Rev. Harriett Walden. “And here we are, 55 years later.”
Eddie Nicholson, 41, drove up from Tacoma to attend the vigil.
Nicholson, who is Black, said it has been “tiring” to watch people get killed like this repeatedly.
“In past events, that could have been me,” Nicholson said.
Nicholson, who has known people who have died due to injustice, said he wished he didn’t attend vigils so often. He suggested more mental health resources should be provided to community members and law enforcement.
“There has to be trauma [officers] are expressing onto people,” Nicholson said.
On Friday, roughly 70 demonstrators gathered in Seattle’s Cal Anderson Park and marched through Capitol Hill into downtown and South Lake Union while chanting Nichols’ name. Protesters stopped at the intersection where a Seattle police officer driving to a call struck and killed Jaahnavi Kandula, 23, in a crosswalk Monday night.
In a statement Saturday, local leaders condemned the killing of Nichols. Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said recent years have demonstrated his office’s “commitment to equitable and constitutional policing and diversified responses.”
“We feel for Tyre’s family and for the people of Memphis,” he said in a statement, “and we are committed to ensuring something like this does not happen in Seattle.”