“A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.” (Jeremiah 31:15, Matthew 2:18, NRSVue)
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) mourns the senseless killing of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black male who died from injuries sustained after a brutal beating at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tennessee.
We pray for the Nichols family as they lay their loved one to rest today, and as they determine ways to honor Tyre’s legacy going forward. We join in solidarity with faith leaders in Memphis and surrounding areas who are providing moral and spiritual leadership to communities mourning this tragedy.
We applaud the swift action of Memphis and Shelby County authorities to terminate and criminally charge those involved in this tragedy. We will continue to monitor this investigation and connect with Memphis area faith leaders to ensure all parties are held accountable, and that the family and community have the resources they need to heal from such a heartrending and unnecessary incident.
We decry yet another act of police violence against an unarmed and nonviolent citizen. The videos of the incident revealed an abhorrent disregard for human life that we collectively must ensure never happens again. Yet, we recognize that this kind of violence continues to permeate our nation’s culture. We must intensify our efforts to end policing that intimidates and traumatizes communities of color rather than protecting and serving them. A traffic violation should not be a death sentence.
While we affirm and support the many law enforcement officers who take seriously their oath to serve our communities daily, we cannot ignore the prevalence of excessive force used by police officers against Black and Brown people.
We call upon Congress to act swiftly in passing comprehensive police reform legislation that will hold officers accountable, train them on de-escalation techniques, and end qualified immunity. Our nation also must address the underlying racial vitriol that devalues the lives of people of color and empowers law enforcement to beat someone like Tyre Nichols to death for what required no more than the issuance of a traffic citation.
Our prayer is that this horrendous display of brutality will be the last such occasion we are prompted to issue a statement of condemnation and that we all commit to using our resources and spheres of influence to hold elected officials at every level of government accountable for passing legislation that it may be so.