Tennessee Rolls Back Police Reform Measures Passed After the Murder of Tyre Nichols

In January of 2023, a group of five officers, who were also Black, fatally beat Tyre Nichols after a traffic stop in Memphis, TN. The rogue officers, who were part of the ‘Scorpion Unit,’ were charged with federal civil rights violations in Nichols’ death, and second-degree murder and other criminal counts in state court. One has pleaded guilty in federal court. The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating how Memphis Police Department officers use force and conduct arrests and whether the department in the majority-Black city engages in racially discriminatory policing.

After Mr. Nichols’ murder, the Memphis City Council passed several ordinances aimed at reforming its police department. The Tyre Nichols Act eliminated “pretextual” traffic stops, when an officer pulls someone over for a minor violation like a broken taillight or expired tags. But, all those lofty changes are now null and void since TN Governor Bill Lee signed off on repealing police traffic stop reforms despite pleas from Mr. Nichols’ grieving parents.

“When they stopped our son Tyre, they came up with all these different excuses as to why they stopped him. But as we all know, none of those excuses panned out,” RowVaughn Wells said. RowVaughn and Rodney Wells traveled to Nashville earlier this month to urge lawmakers to vote against the measure that would undo the police reform named for their late son.

“What those people don’t understand is pretextual stops, all they’re doing is harassing us, the black citizens of Memphis,” she said.

Nichols’ parents weren’t in the room when the Tennessee House advanced the law. The family said that’s because the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. John Gillespie of Memphis, told them the bill was being pushed to the following week.

“So, basically his word is no good to us,” Wells said.

To date, Lee has never vetoed a piece of legislation since taking office nearly seven years ago, only occasionally letting bills become law without signing them to send a message of his concern or disapproval. He rarely bucks his political party’s wishes, and he is notably attempting to push through a contentious universal school voucher bill where he needs Republican support in order for it to pass.

Who will be Trump' running mate?

Avatar photo
About Ms. G 5080 Articles
Welcome back, America!