Eden Theological Seminary stands in solidarity with those in Memphis demanding justice in policing. We pray for the Nichols family in their grief and anguish. Eden aligns with the statement (featured below) of Gamaliel’s Race and Power Institute’s Council of Presidents. Gamaliel is an educational partner of the seminary. “Gamaliel believes it is largely a national problem due to a culture of police militarization, an ingrained warrior mentality, flawed training, inadequate laws, lack of mental evaluation and support, racial discrimination, and deep-rooted impunity.”
God in your mercy, hear our prayers, and move us to resist racism in all its forms.
From the Council of Presidents of Gamaliel’s Race and Power Institute
January 27, 2023
Once again, a senseless act of police brutality has taken the life of another black person. The murder of Mr. Tyre Nichols at the hands of five police officers (Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith, and Desmond Mills, Jr.) in Memphis, Tennessee has traumatized a family and a community. This incident started as result of a simple traffic stop, but ended in a brutal murder.
All five police officers have been fired and charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, and official oppression. What happened to Mr. Nichols in Memphis reveals a mob mentality by these five police officers. Did these police officers see a person or an object? Did they see themselves, a family member, or a fellow human being? The inhumane violence against Mr. Nichols was an act of utmost savagery. Mr. Nichols was dehumanized and depersonalized. The acts of violence perpetrated against Mr. Nichols denied him of his most basic human rights.
Some of the officers involved in the beating and death of Mr. Nichols were part of Memphis police’s SCORPION Unit. This unit, whose name is an acronym meaning Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace In Our Neighborhoods, was created in 2021 to lower violent crime. Where was the peace connection when it came to Mr. Nichols? Who committed the violent crime? True officers of peace would have intervened. Not one of the officers stood up for the rights of Mr. Nichols. These officers participated in an immoral act against a citizen. Even the name Scorpion symbolizes death, evil, unpleasantness, and destruction. These officers lived up to the symbolism.
Brutality is intrinsic to the very core of so many police departments. Until America admits that its criminal justice system is broken, change cannot take place. Justice was denied Mr. Nichols on the streets of Memphis. Justice is now demanded toward the five police officers who brutally murdered Mr. Nichols.
Social justice groups, citizens in Memphis and people across the nation have spoken out against the horrific beating and death of Mr. Nichols. This includes: President Joe Biden, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis and Shelby County District Attorney General Steve Mulroy.
Why is police brutality so prevalent? The Criminal Legal System and the Culture of Policing in America are broken. Gamaliel believes it is largely a national problem due to a culture of police militarization, an ingrained warrior mentality, flawed training, inadequate laws, lack of mental evaluation and support, racial discrimination, and deep-rooted impunity. America’s police departments require deprograming from its historic systemic and structural composition. Only then can transformative justice take place.
Police brutality must end!
Rev. Edward Lee Thompson
Chair, Gamaliel Council of Presidents