After Nichols killing, protesters call for police reform during St. Paul rally

Protesters stand on cold street
Protesters call for police reform outside the Minnesota Governor's Residence in St. Paul on Sunday.
Jon Collins | MPR News

About 300 protesters marched around the Minnesota Governor’s Residence in St. Paul two days after a video was released showing Tyre Nichols being fatally beaten by Memphis, Tenn., police.

The protesters braved temperatures in the low-single digits to call for Gov. Tim Walz and the DFL-led Minnesota Legislature to end qualified immunity for police officers in the state, which grants them protection from individual liability claims.

“We are in a state of emergency here in the state of Minnesota,” said Toshira Garraway Allen, founder of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence. “An injustice done to one of us is an injustice to all of us.”

The public needs to start believing the families of people killed by police, said Amity Dimock, the mother of Kobe Dimock-Heisler, who was shot and killed by a Brooklyn Center police officer in 2019.

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“We need everybody, we need everyone,” Dimock said. “And at this point, it’s not about making a change at the city level, it’s not about making a change at the state level, it’s about the federal level now, because we need to all be safe.”

Woman holds bullhorn under flag
Toshira Garraway Allen, founder of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, speaks to protesters outside the Minnesota Governor's Residence on Sunday afternoon.
Jon Collins | MPR News

There was a minimal police presence at the protest, with officers blocking off the street for protesters as they marched around the block. As they walked, protesters chanted, “Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell.”

Marques Armstrong, the husband of civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong, spoke in lieu of his wife, who he said was recovering from a medical procedure. Armstrong remembered protesting at the same place after Philando Castile was shot and killed by a St. Anthony police officer in 2016.

"Here we are again fighting for the same thing,” Armstrong said. “No, it didn't happen in Minnesota, but the system of policing is the same all around this country."

Activists in Minneapolis also called earlier this weekend for lawmakers to pass laws that make it easier for the public to hold law enforcement accountable for misconduct.

Video of Nichols being beaten by police was released on Friday night, and spurred protests in cities across the country, including in New York City and Memphis. Five officers involved in Nichols’ beating have been charged with second-degree murder.

Walz tweeted after the video’s release that the video was horrifying.

“As we grapple with the pain of another Black life lost at the hands of law enforcement, we must recommit to stopping this pattern of violence—both in Minnesota and across the country,” Walz wrote in the tweet.