01 Feb In Wake of Senseless Death of Tyre Nicholes, SCLC Calls for Solidarity with Family
SCLC President and CEO in Solidarity with Family of Tyre Nichols, Calls for Systematic Change With Kingian Nonviolence Training After Deadly Memphis Police Beating
MEMPHIS – The president and CEO of the perennial civil rights organization co-founded and first led by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. calls the death of Tyre Nichols at the hands police another example of systemic racism and disregard for Black lives.
Dr. Charles Steele, Jr. is in Memphis in a show of solidarity with the family of Nichols a day before funeral services for 29-year-old father. He will attend the funeral on Wednesday. He is also calling on law enforcement agencies in Memphis and across the nation to enroll in Kingian Nonviolence training that is provided by the SCLC.
“This man did not have to die. His death is not only the result of severe police misconduct, but it is also the grotesque byproduct of long-held racist attitudes,” Dr. Steele said Tuesday. “Racism is a virus that is universally infectious. The result is a culture of mistrust and hate that is deadly.”
Dr. Steele called it irrelevant that the police officers charged in Nichols’ death are Black. He explained that their actions were still the result of racist attitudes that are embedded in society and police culture overall.
“While this travesty involves mostly Black officers, these men unfortunately assumed all the negative aspects that we have worked so hard to stamp out of law enforcement,” Dr. Steele said. “It doesn’t matter what color you are. The impact of racism led these men to commit such a brutal act, because of how they felt about people who they viewed as outside the margins socially and economically.”
This is nothing new, Dr. Steele said. Historically, even members of marginalized groups have accepted the myths about their own inferiority. Consequently, some members of the group have resorted to opposing the same communities in which they are members.
For example, he recalled that during the time of slavery there existed a handful of fugitive slave catchers who were Black themselves – Black men hired to return other Black people into bondage.
“Racism is about power; it is about control; it is about money, and it thrives on the exclusion of other people,” Dr. Steele explained. “Systemic racism made these Black men truly hate and discount the lives of other Black men.”
Dr. Steele said he is encouraged by the swift action of Memphis officials regarding the Nichols’ case, but said universal change is needed before these incidents cease.
“The justice that we are looking for isn’t going to happen by osmosis,” Dr. Steele said. “We must demand it nonviolently and change not only policies, but the mindset of an entire culture.”
Dr. King’s nonviolence training is needed to change the state of relations between law enforcement and the Black community in America, Dr. Steele said. It is a six-step process that calls for information gathering, education, personal commitment, negotiation, direct action and reconciliation. Prior to taking the steps, the training calls for adopting six principles, which include nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people and attacking the forces of evil, not the person’s doing evil.
“It all goes back to economics,” said Dr. Steele, explaining the state of relations between law enforcement and the African American community. “It’s a war against the have and have-nots. The tragedy shows racism is not about black, white, yellow or green. It is about excluding the unwanted in our system. This is why we have these crazy laws because they protect the people in control. Money is never the problem until you have no money. The Kingian philosophy sensitizes law enforcement about these bias in society and how to address conflict in a nonviolent manner.” ###
ABOUT THE SCLC: Established in 1957, the SCLC, whose first president was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is an international organization made up of chapters and affiliates with programs that affect the lives of all Americans: north, south, east, and west. Its sphere of influence and interests has become international in scope because the human rights movement transcends national boundaries. For additional information about the SCLC, visit www.nationalsclc.org.To arrange an interview with Dr. Steele, Dr. Lafayette, Rev. Jackson and Dr. Caviness, contact Jerry Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (312) 804-7999.