SEIU 1021

Statement from SEIU 1021 President Theresa Rutherford on the killing of Tyre Nichols by the Memphis Police


The members of SEIU 1021 are outraged by yet another killing of an unarmed person of color at the hands of police.

Our most heartfelt condolences go out to the family of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who succumbed to his injuries three days after a brutal beating by five Memphis police officers at a traffic stop.

While the five officers responsible for Tyre’s death have been charged with murder, we are no closer to justice in America. The fact that the five officers accused of Tyre’s death are Black is beside the point — race is not the determining factor in whether police officers will use excessive force. It is instead a result of the culture of racism and abuse that exists in the police force.

While our union supports the release of bodycam video and a fully transparent investigation, we are concerned about the understandable outrage it will cause and encourage peaceful action and protest. But above all, we demand action.

When I close my eyes, I see Tyre’s face and the faces of:

Daunte Wright

Andre Hill

Manuel Ellis

Daniel Prude

George Floyd

Breonna Taylor

Rayshard Brooks

Atatiana Jefferson

Aura Rosser

Stephon Clark

Botham Jean

Philando Castille

Alton Sterling

Freddie Gray

Janisha Fonville

Eric Garner

Michelle Cusseaux

Akai Gurley

Gabriella Nevarez

Tamir Rice

Michael Brown

Tanisha Anderson

And many, many others.

What I and my union siblings don’t see is action by Congress and other elected officials at any level of government.

We don’t see national police reform.

We don’t see the demilitarization of local police forces.

We don’t see enhanced background checks and screening in hiring

We don’t see better police training.

We don’t see a shift to investment in mental health services and other de-escalation tools.

We encourage our leaders in government to spare us their thoughts and prayers for Tyre’s family.

If you want to honor Tyre’s memory, do your jobs and legislate and administer solutions.

That is the justice we demand.