Tyre Nichols’ mother couldn’t hear his cries. Can you?

I have a vivid imagination, but I don’t need one to picture myself screaming for my mother on my last breaths and she won’t hear me.

Mine is still here with us so I can go back to her. So, in the end, I don’t see myself quite like George Floyd crying for his mother while the Minneapolis police murder him. That was May 25, 2020, and “Miss Cissy” died almost exactly two years earlier. She couldn’t hear him.

RowVaughn Wells couldn’t hear her son either. He ended up being a lot closer and a lot louder than Floyd, which in a way makes it worse. When he said “Mom! Mother! Mother!” In back-to-back, tearful outbursts, Tire Nichols walked about 60 yards from her home in southeast Memphis.

Sixty yards could be the other side of your high school gym. That’s a little less than the length of two basketball courts. We’ve seen NFL quarterbacks throw longer. If Wells had been outside, she might have heard him calling her.

You don’t have to watch the video. Can you still see Tyre? can you hear him

More has been written about the mothers who survive after the police kill their children than the sons who fear what they might leave behind if they become the next victim. Dying is one of my worst fears, but not because I fear the end. What makes me tremble is the thought of my parents, sister, and loved ones mourning my death, especially when the supposedly “best” in any American city or community was to kill me.

We tend to be lazy with our language when describing such things. “Indescribable,” “inconceivably,” or “unbelievable” are all words we hear and say, but police violence in this country is anything but. We keep using these words, but they don’t mean what we think they mean. Kills like Nichols’ are the complete opposite of that “unthinkable.”

RowVaughn Wells stops in front of her son Tire Nichols' coffin

RowVaughn Wells pauses in front of the coffin of her son Tire Nichols during his funeral on Wednesday.

(Andrew Nelles/Associated Press)

Thanks to technology, citizen vigilance, and demands for accountability, we have witnessed the final moments of countless sons and daughters without end. We’ve followed the grief of Black and Hispanic mothers and fathers. After watching Floyd die almost three years ago, the world even chose a few months February not countedTo take collective action to end police abuse and killings with increasing regularity.

Where has it taken us? Tire Nichols is dead. Who knows who will be next?

We should still lament that Los Angeles police unnecessarily killed three men, two black and one Latino, in January. As I watched Nichols run from the Memphis police force, I wondered if he’d seen the last few videos showing LAPD ending lives Takar Smith, Oscar Leon Sanchez And Keenan Anderson.

If not her, surely Nichols saw someone else die at the hands of a cop. We all have that now. He was only 29, but we as a nation have grappled with the spectacle of black death since he was in high school — and with little, if any, real promise to reform the institution of policing in the country. These releases of bodycam footage, surveillance video, and cellphone footage are no longer the stuff of snuff films. Nichols had probably seen this type of film before. He quickly realized that he was now starring in one.

He ran away from her tasers, pepper spray and vitriol. Based on the distance alone, it’s possible he not only tried to escape, but made it all the way home. The traffic stop was about half a mile from Wells’ house, and he almost made it.

It seemed to be a haunting allegory for black police experiences, even black police. For those of us who have understood the institution as the problem, it is immediately apparent. It was always the uniform, not the skin underneath. Diversity initiatives would never save us.

That it was mostly black officers who carried out the attack was all but irrelevant. It still felt a bit like watching an RPG of American bigotry. consider their absurd orders, after you wade through the profanity. A lot of them were synonymous with, black man, do this, even if you already have.

Get on the floor even if he was on the floor.

Give us your hands though they controlled each of his arms.

Put your hands behind your back even if you can’t move them.

And even if you know your life is in danger because you’ve watched American police officers humiliate, dehumanize, attack and kill black people, heaven forbid you try to escape. The penalty for this is the death penalty on the street corner.

No level of compliance was sufficient. Minutes before those same cops were about to beat Nichols to death, they stripped every authority he had over himself.

He freed himself with what was left of his body and dignity, then ran back to the source, his mother. Mothers not only give birth to us and give us an introduction to life, but they can give it to us throughout their lives. Not every child or parent is that lucky, and it seems certain that Nichols had a great mother and Wells had a great son. “Nobody is perfect, nobody. But he was damn close.” Wells told the press last week. “He was damn close to perfect.”

Damn almost everything is understandable in this story. Tire was her youngest. Her baby, born 12 years after his siblings. My own sister is more than a decade younger than me, so I have some understanding of that. It’s not easy, especially for the younger ones. Like me, he had relocated to Tennessee from California during the pandemic. He stayed because of his mother because they are close. Until I got this job, I had that too.

However, too many Americans can or refuse to view our experiences as part of their own. They don’t want their child, spouse, or co-worker to view a police encounter as a life-threatening event. They don’t get shot without warning like Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, or Philando Castile. They believe they and their loved ones have no reason to fear being smothered like George Floyd or beaten to a pulp like Rodney King or Tire Nichols. Maybe you’re right, but do you see the problem here?

Reform of an American Institution dismounted out of overseer And slave catcher may indeed be impossible. I’m a police and prison abolitionist, but not because I have an idea for a more effective replacement Mayor Bass hire more social workers than new cops would be a good start. No, I’m an abolitionist because I have trouble imagining anything worse than what we currently have.

Our tolerance of so-called shootings and killings involving officers is the main reason for this. police killed nearly 1,200 people in the United States in the last year alone. Almost 1,000 to date in Los Angeles County since 2000.

When we see or hear Floyd, Nichols, or the countless others screaming for their mom, who do you hear? do you hear someone’s son do you hear your own child

I really appreciated it when Barack Obama said that in 2012 “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.” Still shattered by the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by a would-be cop, it was the first time I’ve felt that a President of the United States recognizes not only the symbiotic epidemics of gun violence and police violence, but ours as well Empathy Deficit . At that time the New Yorker Amy Davidson Sorkin wrote about Obama, “This lineage is specific and universal. Anyone of any race with a son should see Trayvon on his face; anyone who does not should imagine what could have been, what could have been and what has been lost.”

All that said, empathy is the word. It’s the bare minimum anyone should expect from our neighbors and our government at this point. While we must all embrace our shared vulnerability — if not just to improve our personal relationships, then certainly for the good of our fellow Americans — we will never stop these killings if we have to wait for everyone to become compassionate. Nor will we limit or end them by relying solely on feelings. We can’t be a world that marches for black lives, buys a few books and donates some money before going back to condoning the police abusing and murdering people. We Americans need to adjust our hearing when we don’t hear Tire Nichols’ calls to action.

This is especially true for anyone who doesn’t feel that what the police are doing to black people is part of their own American experience. Mothers like mine and Wells and sons like Nichols and I have carried too much of this burden. If people refuse to give up their undeserved benefits, at least they can put them to good use.

Spring buried her youngest on the first day of Black History Month, the first of 28 days when America pays too little attention to us. My hope is that the next time we hear or see a black person die at the hands of the police, and there will be a next time, we don’t think about whether their mothers might have heard them calling for help. Anyway we can. We still hear Tire Nichols and George Floyd. But are we really listening?

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2023-02-01/tyre-nichols-called-for-his-mother-are-we-listening Tyre Nichols’ mother couldn’t hear his cries. Can you?

Alley Einstein

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