Op/Ed: The Uncomfortable Fact Nobody’s Talking About In The Tyre Nichols Killing


The uncomfortable fact nobody’s talking about in the Tyre Nichols killing. The following article has been written by Mike Simonelli. It includes editorial content which is the opinion of the writer.

According to The Washington Post database, since 2019 there have been an average of 12 unarmed blacks and 17 unarmed whites killed by law enforcement annually, most of whom the evidence showed were justified. In a rare incident that was not justified, on January 7, 2023, Tyre Nichols was murdered by five former Memphis police officers. Though all people involved were black men, the usual critics exploited it as the latest excuse to push their narrative of systemic racism.

In his official statement, President Joe Biden said, “We also cannot ignore the fact that fatal encounters with law enforcement have disparately impacted Black and Brown people.” Typically more inflammatory, Missouri Congresswoman Cori Bush remarked, “The mere presence of Black officers does not stop policing from being a tool of white supremacy.” Freshman Florida Congressman Maxwell Frost echoed that sentiment and also tweeted, “Just saw the video of the lynching,” referring to America’s shameful history of Jim Crow where the Equal Justice Initiative calculated 4,384 blacks were lynched between 1877 to 1950.

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Progressive pundits made similar connections to those dark days from decades ago. In one such piece titled, Black cops killed Tyre Nichols. Systemic racism is the death of us all, culture columnist Jeneé Osterheldt cited Jim Crow as one of the many methods American policing used “as an enforcer of Black subservience subservience.”

Discussing the effects of decades of socialization, CNN political commentator Van Jones inked, Opinion: The police who killed Tyre Nichols were Black. But they might still have been driven by racism. In it Jones named institutionalized racism as the culprit, writing: “Black cops are often socialized in police departments that view certain neighborhoods as war zones… often populated by Black, brown or low income people — where there is a tacit understanding that the “rulebook” simply doesn’t apply.”  These so-called leaders in politics and public opinion can clearly see how powerful the effects of culture and socialization are in the law enforcement profession, but they are willfully blind to those same effects upon the black community.

When it comes to blaming Nichols death on socialization, it’s important to point out that of the five former officers involved, all but one had less than five years on the force. Combined they had been police officers for less than 21 years, but they’ve been black males their entire lives, which comes out to a grand total of 144 years. The handful of years each man spent being socialized in the police department pales in comparison to how powerfully they had been socialized their entire lives. For
anywhere from 24-32 years, as black men they had been taught from a biased media, unsavory activists, and a pandering political class that they are oppressed, violence is a way of life, and their lives are worthless unless killed by the police.

Memphis Tn. Police Department Seal
Seal of the Memphis Tn. Police Department

What those five men were observed doing to Tyre Nichols as they cursed and kicked him like a football was not learned from any professional policing “rulebook” and is not considered acceptable behavior by those in the ranks. What they did resembled more a violent personal beef or gang retaliation that is all too common in cities like Memphis. With more than 18,000 violent crimes reported in 2020, and a record 346 killings in 2021, dozens of which were children, Memphis is “often ranked among the nation’s most violent cities.”

In that regard Jones is right, certain neighborhoods are akin to war zones. Far from seeking subservience though, the men and women in blue bravely enter them to protect the majority law-abiding black and brown people there from being victimized by the violent criminals amongst them. As bad as Jim Crow was, the rate of blacks being murdered by their own in the 21 st century is far worse. According to the FBI, from 2017-2020, 11,011 blacks were killed by fellow blacks – averaging out to 2,753 – the equivalent of 46 years of Jim Crow lynchings every single year by their own. When will the press, politicians, and protestors make it a priority to address the underlying causes behind that conundrum to show that black lives really do matter?

Ignoring the problem and labeling law enforcement as a tool of white supremacy is a lie that has only made things worse. In the aftermath of the defund the police movement, 2021 had 9,114 black homicide victims and 8,504 black homicide offenders. By comparison, whites who outnumber blacks demographically 60% vs. 13%, had far fewer with 6,609 homicide victims and 6,120 homicide offenders that same year. Sadly, the statistics on robberies and assaults are just as lopsided.

Police Officer Killed, Shot Multiple Times

Speaking out about the latest armed robbery to make headlines in NYC where on February 4 th , a 34-year-old black male shot and killed off-duty NYPD officer Adeed Fayaz, Bishop Gerald Seabrooks said, “We are asking parents to bring their children back to church so that we can once again practice morals and values.”

Three recent assaults by young blacks show that one value too many are practicing is violence. While riding the NYC subway on January 21 st , Fox News weatherman Adam Klotz was assaulted by Dante Hampton and other teenagers as young as 15, because he chastised them for lighting an elderly man’s hair on fire. Demonstrating a similar lack of respect for her elders or authority, in a January 26 th incident caught on video in Georgia, a 9 th grade girl cursed her teacher before pulling her down to the ground, repeatedly punching and ultimately breaking her leg. In another video that’s gone viral, on February 1 st a nine-year-old girl in south Florida was pummeled by two boys on the school bus.

In a video about the attack on the bus, social media influencer and cop with attitude, Zeek Arkham said, “in the black community they have to have a serious talk about violence. Police brutality ain’t the issue. White supremacy ain’t the issue. They’re distracting you. You know what the issue is? Violence, fatherlessness, those are the issues right now, the main issues in the black community. It’s going from generation to generation to generation. It’s the truth and the truth is never popular.”

Op/Ed: The Uncomfortable Fact Nobody’s Talking About In The Tyre Nichols Killing
Stock image.

Mr. Arkham is correct; the truth isn’t popular, nor is acknowledging the connection between violence and fatherlessness. A 1997 study on juvenile crime concluded, “the most reliable indicator of violent crime in a community is the proportion of fatherless families.” Since that study the situation worsened as America now has the highest “rate of children living in single-parent households” in the world, and with “nearly 70% of all Black babies today born to unmarried mothers,” black children are suffering that fate more than any other race.

Bashing the police provides a quick and easy distraction, but what would be meaningful and immensely popular is to transform neighborhoods resembling war zones into safe communities. Tearing down law enforcement won’t accomplish that. Hard work building up the family unit will.

Mike Simonelli is a retired US Army officer with 30 years of military service who fought in Iraq and
Afghanistan; an active police officer in New York for 23 years; the Suffolk County PBA Sgt-at-Arms and
holds a master’s degree in National Security Studies from American Military University.  His book in
policing can be found at www.jdfinformation.com.

Op/Ed: The Uncomfortable Fact Nobody’s Talking About In The Tyre Nichols Killing

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