The Paradox of the Tyre Nichols Video
Tire Nichols was a photographer with an eye for nature. He was particularly taken with the landscape portraits, their calm and innocence. It is said that Nichols liked to point his lens skyward and capture as much sunlight as he could before it dissolved on the horizon. On Jan. 7, while driving home after taking photos, he was pulled over by Memphis police, and what happened next was as tragic as it was horribly mundane. Tire Nichols is dead at 29.
There is an eerie poetry that surrounds Nichols’ final moments, as the video of his arrest frames him, bereft of beauty and hopeless. As a photographer, Nichols found resonance in the simple wonders around him. The last snapshots taken of him undermine his creative vision and what his artistry aspired to: they show how grotesque, how naturally ugly and callous institutions of power can be.
At the request of Nichols’ mother, RowVaugn Wells, the video of Nichols’ traffic stop was released on January 27, a Friday. Perhaps hoping to mitigate the shock of the footage, the police department released the video in the evening, a moment when online chatter usually approaches equilibrium. But the primal scream of the video cannot be muffled. Like many black mothers before her, Wells, like her son, is interested in the power of the image and all that images make clear. She wanted the world to witness the brutality being displayed by the officers accused of fatally assaulting her son. “He had bruises all over. His head was swollen like a watermelon. His neck burst from the swelling. They broke his neck. My son’s nose [looked] like an S,” Wells said in an interview with CNN of what she saw while visiting Nichols in the hospital.
Online, an air of tense anticipation wafted across my timeline. Such shots have an unnatural pull. The distorted awe of the spectacle is an inevitability of modern life. They illustrate how with every viral TikTok or news clip posted on Twitter, we’ve been conditioned to watch, react, and move on quickly. But what’s inherent in Nichols’ video can’t be brushed aside. The recording confirms a bitter fact of black existence: Most of the time, our lives remain just a condition of the state.
Understanding the yolk of American police means understanding the nature of American institutions, how they work, and for whom they work. Believing that black officers would conduct a traffic stop differently from non-black officers is one of the big lies of police reform. A being who hoards power always seeks only to preserve and strengthen it. As the old saying goes: skinfolk is not kinfolk.
As we now know, Nichols faced an impossibility; there was no escaping what the five officers demanded of him, a chorus of contradictory instructions. An investigation of The New York Times found that the officers “unleashed a barrage of orders” — 71 in all, according to the analysis — “that were confusing, contradictory, and at times even impossible to follow.”
https://www.wired.com/story/paradox-of-tyre-nichols-video/ The Paradox of the Tyre Nichols Video