The WNBA Players Association shared a statement denouncing police brutality and declaring “enough is enough” in the wake of the recent killing of 29-year-old Memphis resident Tyre Nichols at the hands of five police officers.
Graphic body cam videos released Friday night show Nichols, who was Black, being tased, pepper sprayed and severely beaten by officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith—all of whom are Black—during a traffic stop Jan. 7. Nichols died from his injuries in the hospital on Jan. 10. Ten days later, all five officers were relieved of their duties.
“We stand in solidarity with the family and friends of Tyre Nichols,” the WNBPA said Friday evening. “We are outraged. The police killing of Tyre Nichols marks the continuation of horrific police brutality against yet another Black man. This appalling police misconduct endangers us all and erodes the continuously waning trust of the police within our communities.”
Memphis police made the videos public a day after Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy announced Bean, Haley, Martin, Mills and Smith had been charged with second-degree murder for Nichols’s death. Additionally, Mulroy announced all of five officers had been charged with aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.
Despite the charges levied against the officers, the WNBPA expressed it believed only full-scale change, not any subsequent convictions, can serve as the path to rendering true justice. As of Friday night, only Haley remained in jail after the other four officers were released after posting bail; all five are due in court on Feb. 17.
“Justice for Tyre Nichols is not fully realized with the firing, arrest, or criminal convictions of the officers involved. It must include the unambiguous and united rejection of police abuses, along with a commitment to corrective actions that better serve our communities by every level of government.
“Enough is enough. We have no choice but to bear witness to the life and murder of Tyre Nichols and a moral obligation to demand better for our society. These moments will and must shake our nation to its core. May they also spur us to act. No more.”
Various demonstrations are reportedly scheduled to take place around the country on Friday and over the weekend in response to Nichols’s death and Memphis police’s release of the graphic footage. Among the cities expecting demonstrations include Memphis, Atlanta, New York City and Minneapolis, the city where George Floyd’s 2020 death while in police custody ignited waves of nonviolent and violent protests.
The WNBPA is the latest sports organization to address Nichols’s death on Friday, with the NBA’s Grizzlies and Bucks also issuing statements addressing the events.
“We are distraught to find ourselves dealing with a needless loss of life due to police brutality, and this time it was one of Memphis’s own,” said the Grizzlies. “We’re thinking of the Nichols family and friends, and share the pain being felt throughout our community. So, let’s support each other and respect how our fellow Memphians are coping. We have faith in this city and our power to heal.
“To the Nichols family and friends, we offer our deepest sympathies and condolences for your loss.”