At the Wednesday funeral of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, Vice President Kamala Harris offered words of support for his family and the other mourners who showed up to pay their respects. “We are here to celebrate the life of Tyre Nichols,” Vice President Harris began. Addressing his parents, Rodney and RowVaughn Wells, she said: “We mourn with you.”
On January 7, Nichols was driving in Memphis, when he was pulled over for a traffic stop. After being brutally beaten by police officers, Nichols died three days later. A shocking video of the incident went viral last week, stunning the nation. Five Memphis police officers have since been fired and charged with murder in the death of Nichols.
At his funeral, Rev. Al Sharpton delivered an emotional eulogy and called for justice. The service started with several musical performances and remarks from several of Nichols’ siblings.
Vice President Harris, who reportedly spent half an hour on the phone with his parents before the funeral, spoke for several minutes about the collective grief the country feels. “Mothers around the world, when their babies are born, pray to God when they hold that child, that that body and that life will be safe for the rest of his life,” she said. “Yet we have a mother and a father who mourn the life of a young man who should be here today. They have a grandson who now does not have a father. His brothers and sister will lose the love of growing old with their baby brother. When we look at this situation this is a family that lost their son and their brother through an act of violence at the hands and the feet of people who had been charged with keeping them safe.”
She continued, “When I think about the courage and the strength of this family, I think it demands that we speak truth. And with this I will say this violent act was not in pursuit of public safety. It was not in the interest of keeping the public safe. One must ask: Was not it in the interest of keeping the public safe that Tyre Nichols would be here with us today? Was he not also entitled to the right to be safe? So when we talk about public safety let us understand what it means in its truest form. Tyre Nichols should have been safe.”
Vice President Harris then called for action, specifically for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which was introduced in 2020 and then again in 2021. “As vice president of the United States, we demand that Congress pass the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act,” Harris said. “Joe Biden will sign it. We should not delay and we will not be denied. It is non-negotiable.”
With Rev. Al Sharpton by her side, Vice President Harris closed her remarks by quoting one of her “favorite” verses in scripture, Luke 1:79: “God will help us to shine a light upon those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace,” Harris said, adding: “Let our memory of Tyre shine a light on the path toward peace and justice.”
Rose is a Senior Editor at ELLE overseeing features and projects about women’s issues. She is an accomplished and compassionate storyteller and editor who excels in obtaining exclusive interviews and unearthing compelling features.