Austin Justice Coalition rallies against police violence after release of Tyre Nichols body cam footage

The Austin Justice Coalition held a rally at Huston-Tillotson University against police violence in response to the release of body camera footage in the death of Tyre Nichols.

The footage shows five Memphis police officers beating Nichols for several minutes earlier this month. Nichols died three days later.

Those at the rally remembered Nichols, as well as others who have been killed by police.

Organizers called the event a place for people to express their anger at another unjust police killing.

"This, what we keep doing, is not natural," Chas Moore, executive director of the Austin Justice Coalition said, referring to gathering after another case of police violence.

Organizers say they want to support efforts in Memphis to respond to the tragedy and to connect with those in Austin to end police violence.

"Oh, to be white and not have to dread the idea of something terrible might happen to me at this traffic stop," Moore said.

Some say the body camera video was too difficult to watch. "As soon as I kind of saw the reaction from the police department in Memphis and the media frenzy, I was like, 'okay this is one of the worst we've seen in a long time,'" attendee Walter Hill said.

"I don't need to watch that to be reminded of what this country thinks of people who look like me," Moore said.

"I wish I could've reached out and stopped it. He was trying to figure out what to do. It's excruciating, and it's only one of so many," attendee Jan Wenig said, referring to her reaction as she watched the video.

Congressman Greg Casar (D-Texas) was at the rally. He and other attendees called for changes to policing.


"I think it's time for action. I think there's some actions we could take especially in this community," Wenig said. "In terms of prosecution of police crimes and retraining and criteria for hiring cops who can handle the role."

The five Memphis officers were fired and charged with murder. The special unit they belonged to, SCORPION, was disbanded Saturday. Scorpion stands for Street Crimes Operations to Restore Peace in our Neighborhoods.

"Those Black men in that moment, they didn't see Tyre as their brother. He was not in their community. It was after the fact that they realized they were Black because we've never seen justice, and I say that with heavy quotation marks, move so swift," Moore said, referring to the community of policing.

"This is not just a professional failing. This is a failing of basic humanity towards another individual. This incident was heinous, reckless and inhumane," Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said two days before the body camera footage was released

Austin Police Joseph Chacon released the following statement: 

"Based upon what I know of the incident that occurred earlier this month in Memphis, TN, the actions of the former officers are appalling and indefensible. From all accounts, Mr. Tyre Nichols suffered a brutal assault at the hands of the Memphis officers that resulted in his death. The officers have rightly been terminated and criminally charged.

"I applaud Memphis PD Chief CJ Davis and Memphis officials for their sift and decisive action and for facilitating the criminal investigation to proceed quickly. The Austin Police Department also stands with the family and friends of Tyre Nichols and expresses its heartfelt condolences.

"As police officers, we swear a solemn oath to uphold the constitution and honor the sanctity of human life. The former officers' actions have brought disgrace upon the badge and the profession, and they betrayed that oath of office. It has diminished the hard work of the brave men and women who honorably put on the uniform and protect our communities daily. This incident will only make it harder to maintain and increase public trust in those we serve.

"I affirm that the Austin Police Department will continue the great work we have been going around racial equity and justice issues, and we will continue to build community trust and foster stronger relationships between our officers and the public we serve."