Thousands came to pay their final respects to Tyre Nichols who was laid to rest in his hometown of Memphis on Wednesday.
Held at the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church on Wednesday, uplifting songs such as “A Change Is Gonna Come” and “Oh How Precious” was sung by the choir. Religious leaders and politicians were also in attendance to express their condolences to the grieving family and community.
“As we celebrate Tyre’s life and comfort this family, we serve notice to this nation that the rerun of this episode that makes Black lives hashtags has been canceled and will not be renewed for another season,” Rev. Dr. J. Lawrence Turner, senior pastor of the church said in his opening remarks.
Nichols’ mother RowVaughn Wells, stepfather Rodney Wells, and his siblings shared heartfelt memories during the moving service.
“I guess now his assignment is done and he’s been taken home," said Wells.
Representing the Biden administration, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke of the deep concerns that Black parents have for their children when they encounter law enforcement.
“Mothers around the world, when their babies are born, pray to God, when they hold that child, that that body and that life will be safe for the rest of his life,” said Harris. “When we look at this situation, this is a family that lost their son and their brother, through an act of violence, at the hands and the feet of people who have been charged with keeping them safe.”
Rev. Dr. Earle Fisher, a senior pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Memphis and a professor of Black Sacred Rhetoric and Religion at Memphis Theological Seminary, encouraged the congregation to remember Nichols’ name.
“Say his name—Tyre Nichols. Say his name—Tyre Nichols. That’s some Afrikana ways of knowing,” Fisher said. “Our elders and ancestors said that as long as we speak someone’s name they shall never die."
"His legacy will be one of equal justice. It will be the blueprint going forward because we have to remember that in less than 20 days ... they were terminated, they were arrested and they were charged," Ben Crump added.
Rev. Al Sharpton, who gave the eulogy, said that Nichols’ death would be the impetus for justice and called for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
“I believe that babies unborn will know about Tyre Nichols because we won’t let his memory die,” Sharpton said.“We’re going to change this country because we refuse to keep living under the threat of the cops and the robbers.”
Nichols’ death garnered national attention as he is one of the latest examples of a Black person being assaulted and/or killed by police officers. On January 7, he was brutally beaten by five officers—Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmit Martin and Desmond Mills Jr.—after a traffic stop. Nichols passed away three days later from the injuries he sustained.
Each officer was charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two charges of aggravated kidnapping, two charges of official misconduct and one charge of official oppression.
Currently, all five former officers are being investigated by the Department of Justice and the Memphis police department.