The False Narrative of Tyre Nichols’ Death

The recent incident involving Tyre Nichols received national attention and sparked discussions about systemic racism. But the Nichols case did not have the typical ingredients to fit into the narrative of systematic racism. Nichols was black, but all five officers involved in his arrest were black too—there was no Derek Chauvin figure.

Never ones to yield to the facts, some see things differently. For example, in an article entitled “The fatal beating of Tyre Nichols, explained,” Vox tells us the following:

“It’s systemic, and it’s ultimately state violence, which doesn’t really have a color except for the color of the people who are in power in this country,” she said Lauren Bonds,[the executive director of the National Police Accountability Project]. “So to say that there are no racial implications because there’s a Black victim and Black officers involved is a really myopic way of looking at the problem.”

In Forbes, self-professed diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) expert Shaun Harper has this to say about the Nichols incident:

Institutional racism explains how five Black men could engage in police brutality, leading to the death of another Black man. They participated in the same trainings as white cops. They entered a profession that was born of anti-Blackness (slave catchers were America’s original law enforcement officers). They worked in a place where decades of anti-black policies and tactics were created. How a police department behaves, thinks about Black communities, and mistreats Black people informs how its employees engage with the Black citizens they were hired to protect and serve—even when they’re Black.

Memphis is a predominately black city, with blacks making up 64 percent of the population. The chief of police is a black woman. Eight of thirteen members of the city council are black. In other words, the facts and locale don’t easily lend themselves to allegations of systematic racism.

Regardless of the demographic makeup of Memphis, the governing body, and the police department, those that follow this line of thinking believe that the most important factor is the color of the people in power. According to them, the demographic makeup of Memphis, its governing body, the police department, and the officers involved are all irrelevant. The only thing that matters is “the color of the people who are in power in this country,” which I assume means white folks. The black cops involved with Nichols are not free agents making choices, but automatons programmed to act like modern-day “slave catchers.”

According to reigning “anti-racism” orthodoxy, one is a racist if he tries to treat people equally and ignore immutable characteristics.

It’s important to remember that the goal should be to treat people equally and not be judged by the color of one’s skin. Using the Nichols incident as a tool to further divide the country is not productive. Instead, it’s appropriate to grieve with the Nichols family and support them during this difficult time.

William J. Watkins, Jr. is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the Independent books, Crossroads for Liberty, Reclaiming the American Revolution, and Patent Trolls.
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