Blog Briefing Room

Obamas ramp up calls for police reform after ‘vicious’ beating of Tyre Nichols

Former President Obama
Greg Nash
Former President Obama speaks during a rally for Pennsylvania candidate for Senate John Fetterman at The Liacouras Center in Philidelphia, Pa., on Saturday, November 5, 2022.

Former President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama ramped up their calls for police reform following the release of the video showing the “vicious” beating of Tyre Nichols. 

“The vicious, unjustified beating of Tyre Nichols and his ultimate death at the hands of five Memphis police officers is just the latest, painful reminder of how far America still has to go in fixing how we police our streets,” they tweeted Saturday. 

They said responsibility falls on all people to “mobilize” to create change and included a link to a webpage for the Obama Foundation for people to learn about how communities can “reimagine public safety” to prevent crime and injustice. 

They also posted a photo of Nichols along with the tweet. 

The Obamas’ reaction came after Memphis police released the body camera and surveillance video of five officers beating Nichols, a 29-year-old Black motorist who was pulled over for alleged reckless driving. 

The police department originally said the officers had a “confrontation” with Nichols after they stopped him and he ran away from them, but the footage shows officers pulled Nichols out of the car after stopping him and wrestled him to the ground. 

He ran away from them, but the officers caught up with him and beat him for three minutes. The footage also shows that more than 20 minutes passed between when the officers stopped beating him and when Nichols received any medical attention. 

He was hospitalized and died three days later. 

The video has sparked outrage from many political leaders, such as President Biden and Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.). 

Former President Obama repeatedly called for police reform both during his time in the White House and since the end of his term. 

The Memphis Police Department disbanded the Scorpion Unit, which the five officers were members of and patrolled high-crime areas, on Saturday in response to the release of the video. 

The officers were fired and have been charged with multiple crimes, including second-degree murder.

Tags Barack Obama Barack Obama Memphis Memphis Police Department Michelle Obama Michelle Obama Obama Foundation police brutality police reform Tennessee Tyre Nichols Tyre Nichols video

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