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Ohio State and Columbus leadership speak out on death of Tyre Nichols by Memphis police

The Lantern
Gerald Griggs, an attorney and president of the Georgia NAACP, speaks at a Justice for Tyre Nichols rally near the CNN Center in Atlanta on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023. Credit: Steve Schaefer / via TNS

After authorities released video footage of a fatal beating of Tyre Nichols by Memphis, Tennessee, police officers Friday, the nation erupted in demonstrations against police brutality.

Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, died three days after a Jan. 7 traffic stop ended with violence from five Black police officers, who have since been charged with murder, according to the Associated Press . As protesters planned to demonstrate, some Ohio State leaders urged students to find support, and Columbus administrators expressed shock.

Senior Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers Shivers said in an email Friday members of the Ohio State community will provide support to one another.

“ Please let me know if I can help in any way,” Shivers said. “The Buckeye Family isn’t confined to just Ohio – we are spread across the world and are always ready to help one of our own.”

David Horn, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said in an email Friday he encouraged students to use resources the college provides for support, including the Office of Student Life’s Counseling and Consultation Service.

“ The release of this video follows multiple acts of horrific violence over the past week,” Horn said. “During this period of tragedy and loss, I encourage you to take advantage of the many support resources that the university has to offer.”

The Columbus chapter of the Party for Socialism and Liberation organized a “Justice for Tyre Nichols” demonstration at the Ohio Statehouse Saturday afternoon. The national organization released a statement Friday seeking justice for Nichols and calling for a “a new kind of society” where the police officers don’t kill “with impunity.” Saturday’s protest is not the only demonstration the Columbus community has done to stop police violence in the city.

The family of Casey Goodson Jr., a Black man who was shot and killed while unarmed by former Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy Jason Meade over two years ago , celebrated what would be Goodson’s 26th birthday with a community building event. Meade was indicted in 2021 for the murder of Goodson but has yet to face trial.

Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old Black girl, was shot and killed by a Columbus Police officer Nicholas Reardon in April 2021. Reardon was cleared of all charges in March 2022, according to the Columbus Dispatch .

In August 2022, Columbus police officer Ricky Anderson shot and killed unarmed 20-year-old Donovan Lewis, a Black man. Lewis died shortly after, and Anderson was put on paid leave as special prosecutors investigate the shooting, according to the Columbus Dispatch .

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said in a Friday statement he is horrified by the actions of the Memphis police officers who took Nichols’ life.

“I am horrified at the brutality and complete disregard for life by the five Memphis police officers in the ferocious beating death of Tyre Nichols,” Ginther said. “There is no situation where this can be justified.”

Columbus Public Safety Director Robert Clark said in a statement Friday as a public servant, he finds the actions shown in the video unforgivable.

“For those of us who have dedicated our careers to public safety and public service, the acts seen in this video are simply unconscionable,” Clark said.

In a statement Friday, Columbus Division of Police Chief Elaine Bryant said she is heartbroken after watching the footage.

Bryant said CPD respects the community’s right to demonstrate against the actions of the Memphis police.

“We respect our community’s right to voice their frustration and will give them the space to do so peacefully,” Bryant said. “We will continue to listen and work together to build trust.”

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