Advocacy groups join together at rally in response to released footage of Tyre Nichols

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Community Action Committee held a rally in front of the Duval County Courthouse to demand justice for Tyre Nichols and others who have been victims of police brutality in America.

The rally was sparked after Memphis authorities released body camera and surveillance video showing five police officers beating Nichols after a traffic stop in early January, causing him to die from his injuries three days later.

JCAC along with other organizations held the rally to get the message across that police need to be held accountable for their actions, and community members want change. The organizations called for a public safety oversight committee to be formed.

The Director of the JCAC Christina Kittle said the way the committee would work is that it would be formed by community members who give recommendations to police on how they interact with the community.

“This is the bare minimum they can do to build trust between the community and the police right now. People tell the police how we want to interact with them,” Kittle said.

“No justice, no peace,” echoed throughout the rally.

“We are very much concerned about the culture of racial discrimination and bullying attitude on the part of people who obviously don’t think Black lives matter,” said Ben Frazier, president of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville.

Man speakers emphasized how seeing the video of Nichols being beaten was hard to watch.

Criminal Defense Attorney Lauren Prater said the officers involved in Nichols’ death could face more charges. As of now, they are charged with second-degree murder. aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.

“As evidence continues to develop and get more statements and more footage, prosecutors will take a look at all of the evidence and they will take the facts, they will look at the law, and they will continue to either add charges or amend charges,” Prater said.

Curtis Fallgater, another defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, said for years officers have -- in certain situations -- been protected by qualified immunity, but in this case, they may not have that option.

“Law enforcement officers have some form of qualified immunity but the question is have they gone too far to lose it. If they’ve engaged in conduct that criminal, they lose it,” Fallgater said.

Fallgater also said in this case, it’s possible that one or some of the officers will try to make a deal with prosecutors because they may argue that some officers did more than others, but with so much video evidence, prosecutors might not take that route.

“If we had a change for community control over things that the police have over us, I feel like we would be able to not only rest easier but find justice,” Alivia with Students of Democratic Society said.

Alivia said the organizations are going to try and get the oversight committee on the ballots in 2024 so people can vote on bringing something like this to Jacksonville, which they hope can start the process to build more trust in police.

Shirley McDaniel, who lost her son after he was shot by police, said she’s glad to see people coming together for Nichols -- and for change.

“We need this in our community, and we need this for our loved ones and our kids. At some point and time, we have to gain justice,” McDaniel said.

Saturday, Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters condemned the officers’ actions, calling them” reprehensible and inexcusable” in a statement:

“Like so many Americans, I am shocked and horrified by the images and reports regarding the actions that led to the tragic death of Tyree [sic] Nichols in Memphis. I have spent over half my life in law enforcement, and the actions of those officers are reprehensible and inexcusable. There is no policy in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office or any law enforcement agency in this country that permits such brutality. Law enforcement officers are, first and foremost, public servants. Through their actions, those officers have abandoned their fundamental oaths to serve and protect.

I stand with our community in condemning this behavior. Those officers’ actions do not reflect the culture of law enforcement in our agency or in this country. We are a society of laws, and no one is above the law.

I along with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office send my deepest condolences to the family members and loved ones of Tyree Nichols. They will remain in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

Other cities in Florida such as Miami, Tampa and Orlando have some type of oversight committee in place.

About the Author:

Khalil Maycock joined the News4JAX team in November 2022 after reporting in Des Moines, IA.