SJI responds to the death of Tyre Nichols
To the GSU Jaguar Family,
We stand in deep mourning with Tyre Nichols’ family. The horrifying sound of 29-year-old Tyre screaming out “Mama, Mama” as he was brutally beaten by the Memphis police is a sound that we can never erase from our memory. He died three days later. “Mama, Mama” is a prayer for mercy that people cry before they are murdered (Moore, 2023). Once again, we have been forced back into the nightmares of the tragic murder of George Floyd in 2020, where he too screamed out for his mother as he was killed by a police officer. Once again, we are reminded that we must persist in our efforts to advocate for justice, not just for Tyre Nichols, but for all people who become targets of brutality. We must continue to recognize that we must persist in our efforts to explore and understand that a justice that is restorative requires all parties to come to the table and be present with the humanity of all people. Sadly, it is not only two black men who have been murdered by the police, but over 1,000 people per year and 8,166 deaths since 2015 (Washington Post, January 30, 2023). All people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
There is a hole in a mother’s heart who is living with the cries of her now deceased son. She will never see him or hear his voice again. Tyre’s loved ones will remember him for his infectious smile, his interest in photography, his love for skateboarding, and for being a father to a four-year old son he will never hold again.
As we stand with Tyre’s family, may we remember he is our son, father, brother, husband, nephew, grandchild, and friend. May we stand against police brutality, commit to dismantling systemic injustice, and demand for police reform as we remember our collective humanity. We may be tired, we may be angry, but we must not give up. Let us move forward drawing on the words of Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative, “We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation.”
Public violence is a form of collective trauma that impacts our entire community. Standing in solidarity is an act of self-care, compassion, and a step towards seeking justice and equality for all. The Social Justice Initiative will hold space for the GSU community to process their feelings and thoughts on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, at noon in the Engbretson Hall as we take a moment of silence.
We want to remind students to seek support through the Counseling and Wellness Center. Please contact the Center at 708-235-7334 for an appointment.
To our faculty and staff, please take advantage of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for free counseling.
For immediate assistance, please call:
GSU public safety: 708.534.4900
24-hour crisis lines:
708.429.7255 or 815.744.5280
Phyllis M. West, Ph.D.
Director of the Social Justice Initiative
Office of the Provost
Governors State University