President Joe Biden called a video revealing the beating of Tyre Nichols by Memphis police officers “horrific” and said it was a “painful reminder” of the fear black and brown Americans face regularly, while calling for peaceful demonstrations.
“Like so many, I was upset and deeply pained to see the horrific video of the beating that resulted in the death of Tyre Nichols,” the president said in a statement. “It’s another painful reminder of the deep fear and trauma, pain and exhaustion that black and brown Americans experience every single day.”
Memphis police released the video Friday night of five former officers from the department beating Nichols, who died three days later. The police chief had warned that the video showed a violation of “basic human rights”.
“The tape that was released tonight will make people rightly outraged,” Biden said before the release. “Those who seek justice should not resort to violence or destruction. Violence is never acceptable; it is illegal and destructive. I join Mr. Nichols’ family in calling for peaceful protest.”
Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that Biden had not seen it, but that he had been briefed on it. Mr. Biden also spoke to Nichols’ mother and stepfather. The video shows Nichols calling for his mother at one point.
Officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith were all charged with second-degree murder Thursday.
Biden also repeated his call for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which died in Congress last session.
“We must do everything in our power to ensure that our criminal justice system lives up to its promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment and dignity for all. Real and lasting change will only come if we take action to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again, he said. “When Senate Republicans blocked the bill, I signed an executive order that strengthened use of force standards and accountability provisions for federal law enforcement, as well as measures to strengthen accountability at the state and local levels.”
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, the first black leader of a party in Congress, also condemned the video Friday night.
“The brutal and violent killing of Tire Nichols by officers sworn to protect the community is unconscionable,” he said. “Justice for Tire Nichols must be swift and complete.”