United States. Fatal arrest of an African-American: Biden calls for calm

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US President Joe Biden called for calm on Thursday as protests mount over the fatal arrest in early January by five black police officers of Tire Nichols, an African-American man in Memphis, Tennessee.

“As Americans mourn, the Justice Department investigates, and authorities continue their work, I join Tire’s family in calling for peaceful protest. Anger is understandable, but violence is never acceptable,” Joe Biden said in a statement, also calling for a “quick, complete and transparent investigation” into this tragedy.

The five police officers were charged and imprisoned on Thursday for murder following the death in early January of Tire Nichols, a few days after his arrest. This was described as “appalling” by the authorities.

Traffic offense

These police officers from Memphis, a large city in Tennessee, all African-Americans, are the subject of several charges, including murder, assault and battery or kidnapping.

On January 7, the police – since dismissed – wanted to arrest Tire Nichols, 29, for a traffic violation.

The details of this arrest are not yet clear: a video of the facts exists, but has so far only been shown to the relatives of the victim and their lawyers.

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In his press release, Joe Biden underlines: “Tyre’s death is a painful reminder that we must do more to ensure that our justice system honors the promise of fair and impartial justice”.

The Democratic president is urging Congress to pass a police reform bill, passed in the House of Representatives in 2021 but which did not pass the Senate hurdle.

Since the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020, the US Congress has been unable to pass any ambitious police reform in the United States, including a ban on chokeholds.

The question of police reform is a major theme for the African-American electorate, and on which Joe Biden had campaigned in 2020.

Joe Biden has so far said he “intends to run” for president in 2024, and has promised to make his decision public in early 2023.

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