Twin Cities residents quietly reflect after Memphis police beating video is released

An activist process the footage of Memphis police officers beating
Raj Sethuraju leads community members in a breathing exercise at Sabathani Community Center as they process the footage of Memphis police officers beating Tyre Nichols on Friday.
Nicole Neri for MPR News

After an anticipated release showing the brutal beating of a Black man by police in Memphis, the Twin Cities did not see large protests, but the killing was marked in neighborhoods and at least one sporting event. At one community center some gathered, still in pain over the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

Tyre Nichols was beaten by five Black officers after a Jan. 7 traffic stop and died three days later. The officers were fired and have been charged in his killing. The investigation continues as more law enforcement officers could face legal or other action.

The Sabathani Community Center in south Minneapolis created a space for those grieving the latest killing with Black therapists and others present for people to share their thoughts and emotions.

Sabathani president and CEO Scott Redd said the video was sure to trigger south Minneapolis residents.

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Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies fans pat tribute
Fans pay tribute to Tyre Nichols before starting an NBA basketball game between Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies on Friday at Target Center. Kerem Yücel | MPR News
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

"We're listening and we're knowing what our community, what the pain they're going through. And we need a place for them to come in to be able to grieve, to be able to heal,” Redd said before the video was released, adding that they would talk about prevention of future violence by police. “What's our plan to make sure this doesn't happen in Minnesota."

Minneapolis police chief Brian O'Hara, appointed last fall, condemned the actions of the Memphis officers.

“While I honor and commend the men and women in uniform who serve all people every day with respect, I condemn any criminal behavior by police. The privilege to protect with courage and serve with compassion is sacred.  Violent abuses of authority, such as displayed in this incident, have absolutely no place in our profession,” O’Hara said in a statement released by the department Thursday.

The video showed Nichols being held down on the ground and calmly talking to officers yelling that they will Tase him and ordering him to put his arms behind his back or they’ll break them. As officers beat him and screamed profanities at the 29-year-old FedEx worker, Nichols yelled he wasn’t doing anything and called out for this mother. After the beating, which lasted around three minutes, video shows Nichols slumped against a vehicle as the officers milled around for several minutes.

The officers each face charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression. Attorneys for two of the officers said they intend to plead not guilty. It’s not clear how the others will plead.

At Target Center Friday night as the video was shown and shared across the country, the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves held a moment of silence prior to the game. Both teams offered thoughts to Nichols’ family and friends in messages tweeted before the video was released.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.