Students React to the Death of Tyre Nichols

Hannah Sweeney, Co-News Editor


This week, Villanova students and people all over the country mourn the death of Tyre Nichols, who was brutally killed by police officers in Memphis, Tennessee. Nichols, who was 29 at the time of his death, was a son, brother, friend and father of a four-year-old boy. Nichols worked for FedEx, enjoyed photography and was closely involved with the skateboarding community in Memphis. On January 7th, Nichols was pulled over for a traffic stop just minutes away from his mom’s house. The encounter then turned violent as officers beat, tased and kicked Nichols until he was hospitalized. Three days later, on January 10th, Nichols died, sparking horror, outrage and cries for justice from people across the nation.


While the news about Nichols was shocking for some students on campus, others expressed ongoing frustration with a broken system.


“When I first heard the news about Tyre Nichols, I was shocked, but also, not really,” Villanova sophomore Nick Jubilee said. “I feel like over the past few years I’ve just grown so desensitized to the senseless killings of Black and Brown men and women. It doesn’t hurt any less than it did before, but I just feel like it’s something that’s starting to become normalized, which sucks to say. I remember hearing about it and just immediately being so shocked and upset, not only because he was beaten senselessly and treated worse than an animal, but the fact that the officers who beat him looked like him.”


Villanova’s Black Student Union also issued a statement on the incident.

“The Black Student Union of Villanova University mourns the death of the late Tyre Nichols. Like many other young Black men in America, his life was sadly cut short due to hatred. Although as a community we are tired of existing in a cycle of ostracization, dehumanization, and hatred, we will continue to bring awareness to experiences like this that Black people face. We, as an organization, send our prayers and condolences to the family of Tyre Nichols as they continue to experience life without their beloved friend and family member. We are also happy to know that justice has been served to those who had a hand in Tyre’s untimely death.”


Villanova sophomore Isabella Balian echoed this statement, adding that condolences, although important, are not enough.


“Police brutality has remained to be an issue in America and it’s sickening to see it prolonging after years and efforts of protest,” she said. “Black Americans face police brutality at a disproportionate rate to their white counterparts; they should not have to fear being brutally murdered by the people who are supposed to protect them. Tyre Nichols’ death once again proves that police brutality is still a relevant crime in America towards Black Americans and is disproportionately affecting their community. Thoughts and prayers have to go further and be reciprocated in legislation and protective measures to truly make a difference. The officers who are accountable must be held responsible for their actions. No matter race, ethnicity, or location, Americans must realize what an injustice this is to our country.”


On January 27th, Memphis Police Department released the gruesome body camera footage from the police on the scene the day of the incident. The footage was an hour long, showing graphic details from the encounter. After the footage was released, seven officers were suspended and five are currently being charged with second-degree murder, kidnapping, aggravated assault, misconduct, oppression and other crimes. 


“In regards to the video, I refuse to watch the video,” Jubilee added. “I refuse to put myself through that. Just hearing that another Black man was killed because of police brutality is already traumatizing enough. But for me to sit there and watch him scream for help and try and protect himself is more traumatizing than I can even explain. I think that the video is good because it helps to show that all the officers are guilty and they are no better than Derek Chauvin who killed George Floyd because of their skin color. It shows that they are no better than Brian Encinia who showed excessive force and straight-up abuse of power when he pulled over Sandra Bland. It shows that they are no better than the countless officers who have abused their power.”


What happened to Nichols was not an isolated instance for Black Americans. It has been over two years since the murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed, and grievances like this are continuing to occur. 


“We sincerely hope that everyone will learn to have compassion, respect, and love for all mankind; so something like this will never happen again,” the Black Student Union said.