He cried out for his momma.
That final plaintive cry from a fatally beaten Black man is tattooed into my mind. The harrowing image of Tyre Nichols, a once vibrant African American man pummeled into a gruesome state is seared into our collective consciousness.
A horror no momma ever imagines for their child.
Certainly not Tyre Nichols’ momma, RowVaughn Wells, the adored mother whose name was tattooed on her equally beloved son’s arm.
The same arm that fought off the brutal fists, boots, and batons of multiple police officers as they attacked her cherished son all because of an alleged traffic infraction.
The arm that would lay limp, dangling from his crumpled, slight body on the cold pavement. leaning against a squad car as the Black officers who had just beaten him, fist-bumped and celebrated their actions.
Since Friday night when the harrowing video of Nichols’ murder was released, it has been playing endlessly through my mind like a nightmare I am unable to awaken from.
It is every mother’s nightmare. And we cannot continue to sleepwalk through these endless episodes of police brutality.
The recording from the bodycam showed the police savagely beating the 29-year-old for three minutes while screaming profanities at him, holding him down, and repeatedly striking him as he screamed for his mother and pleaded “I’m just trying to get home.”
To his mother.
We Cannot Avert Our Eyes
The video which came with its warnings of “disturbing violent content” was nearly unwatchable and for many, it was too horrific to view. It was like watching a lynching, which in fact it was.
But like countless others, I needed to bear witness to this act.
I thought in that moment of Mamie Till Bradley, the mother of murder victim Emmett Till, who wanted people to visually understand what hate and a culture of racism did to her ravaged son.
She made the decision to have an open coffin that would make visible the hate that existed in our country in 1955, showcasing the deep south’s brutality in the mutilated face and body of her murdered son.
The gruesome post-mortem images of Emmett Till were analogous to what America “can be at its worst.” The power of that photograph would galvanize America’s civil rights movement.
Now 68 years later, systemic racism still lives. We are still being called to witness America’s ongoing racist brutality.
Though the circumstances of each young Black man’s death are different, both sons died of a persistent strain of American racism.
The fact that the officers who murdered Tyre Nichol are Black does not weaken the case but strengthens it. It proves the problem with our policing is systemic. Regardless of race these officers were taught they can treat specific communities in specific ways.
Oh, mother, mother, where is justice?
How many others have cried out for their mommas?
Did George Floyd or Daunte Wright? Sandra Bland or Philando Castile? Did we cry out for justice for them and for thousands of others senselessly killed by racism?
He cried for his momma.
I cry for Tyre.
I weep for our country.
Copyright (©) 2023 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved
I find it hard to wrap my mind around the character of the individuals who did this. Were they bullies from the start? Was it the gang mentality? What is the recruitment and interview process for policing? Heartwrenching tragedy yet we have a governor of Florida who thinks high school and college age students should be shielded from Black history courses. It’s mind boggling.
LikeLiked by 1 person