This was one of the measures demanded after the death of Tire Nichols: the Memphis police dismantled, on Saturday January 28, the Scorpion unit which included the five police officers accused of having caused the death of the African-American. 29 years old after a long beating at the beginning of January.
Police in this major city in Tennessee, in the southern United States, said in a statement that“it is in everyone’s interest to permanently dismantle the SCORPION unit”.
“The police officers currently assigned to the unit have given their full agreement”the statement added.
This announcement comes the day after the public release of videos showing the violent arrest of Tire Nichols on January 7 during a traffic check. The man died three days after being hospitalized. The images of the police intervention have aroused horror and incomprehension in the United States, without for the moment causing the social explosion similar to that of the summer of 2020 feared by the authorities after the death of George Floyd killed by a white police officer.
A decision hailed by the family of Tire Nichols
Tyre Nichols’ family welcomed the Memphis police decision via a statement from his lawyers, deeming it “both appropriate and proportionate to the tragic death of Tire Nichols “, but also “decent and just for all the citizens of Memphis”.
“We hope other cities will take similar steps with their police units. [des quartiers difficiles] in the near future to begin to generate greater trust in their communities”added the family.
Rallies ranging from a few dozen to a few hundred people were held Friday night in several cities, including Memphis, New York and Washington. Saturday afternoon, several dozen demonstrators mobilized in the rain and in the cold in front of the town hall of Memphis, an imposing building of concrete blocks.
“Memphis has the opportunity to set the pattern for responding to such acts”, City Councilman JB Smiley shouted to the crowd, calling for police reform. To the sounds of ” No justice, no peace “ and with placards asking “justice for Tire Nichols”protesters then marched through the otherwise quiet streets of Memphis.
Nearly 1,200 dead in 2022 during interactions with American police
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis, who launched the unit in November 2021 with the goal of reducing illegal activity in sensitive neighborhoods by deploying more officers there, reported that Scorpion won early successes, particularly the drop in crime in 2022 after a record 345 homicides the previous year, which had sparked ” an outcry “according to her.
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Scorpion, which stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods, was intended to “reduce armed violence, be visible in communities and impact the rise in crime”she said on CNN.
Two years after the death of African-American George Floyd, the number of people who died during interactions with the police nevertheless peaked with 1,186 deaths in 2022, the highest in ten years, according to the site Mapping Police Violence.
The five police officers involved in the death of Tire Nichols have been fired, charged with murder and imprisoned. Four of them were later released on bail.