Tyre Nichols Murder Draws Social Justice Activists to Irvington Rally Favorite 



Jan 29 2023

Some 70 or 80 lo­cal ac­tivists, politi­cians and other con­cerned cit­i­zens gath­ered out­side Irv­ing­ton Vil­lage Hall Sun­day evening, two days af­ter the re­lease of gut-wrench­ing video of the mur­der of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols at the hands of po­lice­men in Mem­phis.

Though the demon­stra­tion lacked the spon­tane­ity and in­ten­sity that char­ac­ter­ized the ral­lies fol­low­ing the death of George Floyd in June of 2020, there was an air of sad­ness and frus­tra­tion in the crowd. Kelli Scott, who was a gal­va­niz­ing force be­hind pre­vi­ous Black Lives Mat­ter ral­lies in Irv­ing­ton, said at the open­ing of a se­ries of speeches, “There are many ques­tions as to why we as­sem­ble now. What is the story now” Why now? The re­al­ity is that noth­ing has changed.”
Mayor Brian Smith, who noted that the crowd was gath­ered on what is now Madam C. J. Walker Plaza, ob­served that there were dif­fer­ences. Be­yond the fact that all five of the of­fi­cers were them­selves Black, Smith said, “This was im­me­di­ately con­demned; ac­tions were taken by elected of­fi­cials…and every voice said ‘this is wrong. This was mur­der.’”

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“We have to take the next huge leap though,” Smith added, “—that says this can­not hap­pen again.”

An­other speaker at the rally was Ken­neth Cham­ber­lain Jr., whose fa­ther was killed in 2011 in his own home by a White Plains po­lice­man. No crim­i­nal charges were filed against the of­fi­cer, though his son has con­tin­ued to pur­sue jus­tice through a civil suit. “If you can find any pos­i­tives [in the Mem­phis case], it’s that their po­lice chief im­me­di­ately ter­mi­nated those in­di­vid­u­als and they were charged by felony com­plaint,” Cham­ber­lain ac­knowl­edged. Tyre Nichols was killed by fel­low Blacks,” he granted, “and yes, race is an is­sue, but it is the in­sti­tu­tional and sys­temic is­sue that you have to ad­dress.”

Irv­ing­ton po­lice of­fi­cers were pre­sent but kept a re­spect­ful dis­tance from the rally. On Mon­day, Po­lice Chief Fran­cis Pig­natelli is­sued a state­ment af­firm­ing thatIrv­ing­ton Po­lice of­fi­cers are com­mit­ted to help­ing every­one in a re­spect­ful, com­pas­sion­ate, and fair way and we will con­tinue to serve our com­mu­nity to the best of our abil­i­ties.”

In neigh­bor­ing Tar­ry­town, Chief of Po­lice John Bar­balet is­sued a state­ment call­ing Nichols’ death “…un­ac­cept­able to not only our com­mu­nity but our own law en­force­ment pro­fes­sion­als as well."
The Mem­phis of­fi­cers, his state­ment con­tin­ued, “have brought shame onto po­lice of­fi­cers across the coun­try who work tire­lessly every day to pro­tect the com­mu­ni­ties they serve. Their ac­tions do NOT re­flect on the pro­fes­sional men and women of this de­part­ment.”

Demon­stra­tions like the one in Irv­ing­ton are ex­pected in Yonkers and White Plains in the com­ing days.

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