NORTH CAROLINA’S CONNECTION
TO THE TYRE NICHOLS POLICE
by Cash Michaels
It’s probably accurate to say that North Carolina and the nation are not shocked by the video of the brutal Memphis, Tenn. police beating of Black motorist Tyre Nichols, released and televised last Friday night.
Saddened would be more like it, especially since it was five Black Memphis police officers this time who have since been fired from the force, and charged with a plethora of serious charges, including second-degree murder and kidnapping.
A sixth officer was suspended Monday for his alleged role in the beating, and a seventh officer was also relieved of duty.
And just like the gut-wrenching George Floyd police murder case on May 2020, there are connections back to North Carolina that are now coming into focus. For instance, in the Floyd case, even though he grew up in Houston, Texas, he was actually born near Fayetteville before his family moved to Texas. In fact, George Floyd still has family here in North Carolina, who run a foundation in his name to help young people. And the first memorial service in Floyd’s honor was held just outside of Fayetteville.
While the murder victim, Tyre Nichols, 29, has no connection to North Carolina that we know of, the African American Memphis police chief who ultimately fired the five Black officers charged with fatally beating and kicking Tyre Nichols, is not only a North Carolina native, but was chief of police in Durham for five years before going to Memphis in 2021.
Cerelyn Davis, better known as Chief “CJ” Davis, is considered a star when it comes to Black female police chiefs in the nation. She was born to a military family at Fort Bragg, and spent several years working her way up in the Atlanta, Ga. Police department (she was once fired, but later reinstated) before coming to Durham in 2016.
Since the Nichols beating, Chief Davis has been lauded for her shift action in firing the five Black officers, and then releasing the body-cam and street video of the incident quickly in an effort to be transparent with the Memphis citizenry.
And she also made clear that she does not condone what happened.
“This is not just a professional failing,” Chief Davis said in a video last week. “This is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual. This incident was heinous, reckless and inhumane.”
Another North Carolina connection to the Nichols case is Benjamin Crump, the attorney representing Nichols’ family.
Crump, also known as the “Black America's attorney general,” is well known for advocating for the families of Black victims of police and racial violence, from Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, George Floyd, and now Tyre Nichols, to civil rights cases, including the Flint water crisis, and Johnson and Johnson baby powder.
Though his law office is in Tallahassee, Florida, Atty. Crump is a native of Lumberton, NC.
About the Nichols case, Atty Crump has likened it to the level of police brutality last seen in the 1991 Rodney King case.
Needless to say, leaders in North Carolina are paying close attention to the Nichols case.
"The beating and murder of Tyre Nichols is unconscionable, and justice should be served swiftly," Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12) wrote. "I am praying for his family and community tonight. "Most of all, I am praying for people across the country to join us in ending extrajudicial police violence."
Rep. Adams new congressional colleague, Rep. Don Davis (D-NC-1) joined in.
"Tyre Nichols’ death is deeply disturbing. This is every parent's worst nightmare. As a father of three young boys, this is the kind of unimaginable tragedy that leaves me heartbroken. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the Nichols family.
“Let us keep the Memphis community in our prayers.”
NEW REPUBLICAN NC SUPREME
COURT HEARS EX-FELONS
VOTING RIGHTS CASE TODAY
By Cash Michaels
Today, February 2nd, is the day the new 5-2 Republican majority state Supreme Court hears oral arguments that could decide once and for all whether over 56,000 former felons will continue to have voting rights.in North Carolina.
The new NC Republican - led High Court was impaneled January 1st, but did not begin hearing case arguments until this past Tuesday. Many observers are fearful that the GOP lawmakers will exploit the conservative leaning of the state Supreme Court by petitioning it to rehear cases that the previous Democratic-led Supreme Court has decided against them, particularly redistricting and voting rights.
In the case of Community Success Initiative versus Moore, while the previous Democrat-led state Supreme Court issued several court orders allowing ex-felons on probation, parole or post release supervision the right to vote in the November 2022 midterm elections, the issue itself had not been decided by the time that court had left office on December 31st.
Now, the new conservative High Court gets to make the final state decision, and if it were up to Republican lawmakers, ex-felons would be denied the right to vote until they’ve completed all requirements per their release.
Attorneys for the ex-felons will tell the High Court that this is wrong.
“North Carolina required people with previous felony convictions to pay legal financial obligations before they could vote – a practice that disenfranchised thousands of people, predominately people of color. The law was challenged by North Carolinians with prior felony convictions and advocacy groups as a violation of their constitutional rights,” stated the Southern Poverty Law Center, which filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs.
“It describes how out of the more than 56,000 people barred from voting due to the law, 42% are Black despite Black people representing only 22% of the state’s population,” continued SPLC.
The question is, during court arguments today, just how partisan will the conservative 5-2 majority of the NC Supreme Court be?