MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Members of Mt. Olive Cathedral Church in Memphis gathered for worship on Sunday, two days after Tyre Nichols’ parents spoke from the sanctuary and called for peace following the release of video showing their son's fatal beating at the hands of police.
“We’ve had calm so far, which is what we have been praying for," Pastor Kenneth Thomas said before the service. "And, of course, we hope that continues.”
Cities nationwide had braced for demonstrations after body camera footage was released Friday showing Memphis officers beating 29-year-old Nichols, who died of his injuries three days later. Several dozen demonstrators in Memphis blocked the Interstate 55 bridge that carries traffic over the Mississippi River toward Arkansas. Protesters also blocked traffic in New York City, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon, but the protests have been scattered and non-violent.
During the church service, Thomas offered a prayer for Nichols’ family, asking God to “shower them with your blessings.”
The loss is “still very emotional” for the family, a lawyer representing them said Sunday, but they are using all their energy to advocate for reforms both in Memphis and on the federal level.
“His mother is having problems sleeping but she continues to pray with the understanding, as she believes in her heart, that Tyre was sent here for an assignment, and that there will be a greater good that comes from this tragedy,” Attorney Ben Crump said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Crump welcomed disbanding the city’s so-called Scorpion unit, which Police Director Cerelyn “CJ” Davis announced Saturday, citing a “cloud of dishonor” from the newly released video.
Davis acted a day after the harrowing video was released, saying she listened to Nichols’ relatives, community leaders and uninvolved officers in making the decision. Her announcement came as the nation and the city struggled to come to grips with the violence of the officers, who are also Black.
The five officers involved in Nichols' beating — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith — have been fired and charged with murder and other crimes in Nichols’ death. They face up to 60 years in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.
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