WASHINGTON — President Biden asked for “peaceful protest” Thursday after five fired Memphis police officers were arrested and accused of beating to death Tyre Nichols.
Nichols, 29, was pulled over by police on Jan. 7 and died three days later from his injuries. He and all five officers are African-American.
“I join Tyre’s family in calling for peaceful protest. Outrage is understandable, but violence is never acceptable,” Biden said in a written statement. “Violence is destructive and against the law. It has no place in peaceful protests seeking justice.”
Biden added, “Public trust is the foundation of public safety and there are still too many places in America today where the bonds of trust are frayed or broken. Tyre’s death is a painful reminder that we must do more to ensure that our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment, and dignity for all.”
The five fired cops were indicted Thursday on charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.
Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith were fired last week for excessive use of force, failing to intervene and failing to render aid to Nichols, who had been pulled over for alleged reckless driving.
Body camera footage of the officers assailing Nichols is expected to be released Friday after 7 p.m. ET. Authorities said Nichols fled his vehicle before suffering his fatal injuries.
Large-scale protests and riots against police brutality have been less common during Biden’s administration than under former President Donald Trump, when the May 2020 murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin sparked months of nationwide unrest.
Last week, however, dozens of black-clad demonstrators rampaged through downtown Atlanta to protest the shooting death of Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, who was protesting construction of a new $90 million police training center known as Cop City, a pet project of Biden White House aide and former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
Republicans criticized Biden while he was a presidential candidate for what they said was insufficiently forceful condemnation of violence after Floyd’s death as major cities experienced looting and widespread vandalism.
Left-wing Democrats, meanwhile, accused Biden of contributing to racial inequality by sponsoring laws in the 1980s and ’90s that caused the “mass incarceration” of minorities.
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