Keenan Anderson, Tyre Nichols, and Tortuguita are just a few of the many intentional, state-sanctioned murders that have taken place in 2023.
A 31-year old high school teacher and father in Los Angeles, Keenan Anderson was killed by police who tased him for over 90 seconds when he flagged them down after a traffic accident. Tyre Nichols, who was 29 when he was beaten to death by police in Memphis, was an avid skateboarder and also had a young son. Tortuguita, who was killed by police while protesting Atlanta’s “Cop City,” was a beloved community organizer fighting to protect the environment.
This must stop.
Tyre Nichols screaming for his mother 80 feet from their home in a median class neighborhood is a call for every mother to pick up the mantle of fighting for equity, public safety, and the replacement of a police force that continues to murder black men and women with a model that works for all people. Keenan Anderson murdered in broad daylight on a busy street tells us that systems cannot merely be “fixed” but that we need something radically new. Both of these black men begged officers in their traumatic encounters to stop. Nichols stating 'I am just trying to go home' and Anderson stating 'please don’t do this'—both men verbally articulated their compliance although the use of force only increased.
These brutal and heartless acts of violence continue to raise the question: How do we keep black men and women safe from police? And the answer is apparent that we cannot. After Tortuguita’s controversial death with little transparency, we are supposed to believe this loving activist was not the victim of another murder. How do we keep our communities safe?
I urge all mothers to stand with the Nichols family, all educators and fathers to stand with the Anderson family, and all activists and environmentalists to stand with Tortuguita’s family and with TCJE and others as we fight to end the terror that police inflict and mass incarceration. Every moment that we do nothing and sit by silently and without action is another opportunity we give for another person, in particular a black man, to be taken from us in the most feared and egregious way, under the false pretense of safety.