WASHINGTON — Protesters shut down a busy intersection in downtown D.C. during rush hour in solidarity with the nationwide protests over the death of Tyre Nichols, who was fatally beaten by five Memphis police officers.
On Jan. 7, the father and FedEx worker was pulled over for what police say was reckless driving. After attempting to flee on foot, the 29-year-old was severely beaten by police. Nichols died three days later in a hospital.
"It should not take the release of body cam footage of a Black man getting murdered by police for people to jump to action," said one of the members of the Black-led activist group Harriet's Wildest Dreams.
Memphis authorities released footage from the police beating, in which officers are shown beating and kicking Nichols as he lies on the ground after being dragged out of his car by the police.
Memphis officials stressed that the footage would be released for transparency but advocates are calling it triggering.
"I had to call mothers today to not watch this video because they live in D.C. and they experience what Tyre's family is experiencing every day," said April Goggans of Black Lives Matter D.C. She says she is asking the Black community to abstain from watching the video over fear of PTSD.
Patrice Sulton with the D.C. Justice Lab shared a similar sentiment saying to the crowd, "People want to see the video so we have proof to show the nonbelievers that what is happening to us is illegal. That what is happening to us every day is unjustified."
Five officers have been charged with murder in the death of Nichols.
Activists say the killing of Nichols is a reminder of pending investigations into the killings of Black men at the hands of D.C. police.
"Our beloved community members, David Lazarus Wilson, Troy Bullock, and Kevin Hargraves Sheard should still be here," said a speaker from the group Harriet's Wildest Dreams.
The groups that gathered at the intersection of 13th Street NW and K Street NW because they say they wanted to be intentional about not gathering at Black Lives Matter Plaza. Speakers called the area unsafe after demonstrators were gassed and beaten by law enforcement officers during the summer of 2020 protests.
D.C. police has fully activated all sworn members in preparation for more protests following the release of the footage.
"We want them to know that if there is no justice, there will be no peace," said activist Nee Nee Taylor.
Groups like Harriet's Wildest Dreams are vowing to continue protesting in the nation's capital.
"We are going to be out here exercising our rights, constitutional rights, and we deserve the right to defend ourselves by any means necessary. We will not burn the house down, but we damn will move some furniture around," said Jay Brown. His nephew Jeffrey Price died in 2018 after crashing into a police cruiser. Price's family says a police officer was chasing the 22-year-old and that he used his car as a blockade, but D.C. police denied those claims.