Who Was Tyre Nichols? Get to Know the Young Man Brutally Beaten By Memphis Police by Ann Marie Patitucci

Opinion Headlines
10 months ago

Who Was Tyre Nichols? Get to Know the Young Man Brutally Beaten By Memphis Police

Tyre Nichols was a 29-year-old Black man, a young father, on his way home from taking photos of the sunset in a beloved local park in Memphis, Tenn., when he was pulled over by police. Mr. Nichols was brutally attacked by five Memphis police officers, just around the corner from his home, where he lived with his mother and stepfather. He succumbed to his injuries in the hospital three days later. The five officers have been fired and are charged with second-degree murder and other charges.

Today I watched the video that was released by Memphis Police. Before watching the video, I had heard that Tyre called out for his mother, but nothing prepared me to hear his cries. As he was being brutally beaten by police officers, this grown man cried out for his mom. You can hear the panic in his voice, the fear. "Mom" was likely the last word he spoke on this earth.

I can’t stop thinking about his mom, RowVaughn Wells. She spoke at a press conference on Friday, January 27, 2023: “For a mother to know their child was calling them in need and I wasn’t there for him; do you know how I feel right now because I wasn’t there for my son?” I don’t think anyone can know how she feels; her loss and grief and anguish are beyond our comprehension, bigger than our imaginations.

On Friday, before the release of the bodycam footage, Memphis’ police chief warned the public that the video would depict “acts that defy humanity.” Having watched the footage myself, I think that is a fair description. It is worth noting that several of the news sources I reviewed provide a warning before the video begins, some variation of "This video contains disturbing images and language."

What will it take for us to end police brutality in our country? How many more young men (and women) need to die? No, I do not believe that those five Memphis officers represent the whole of law enforcement, but I do believe that those who engage in police brutality must be held accountable; this includes both the officers who participate in the violence as well as those who witness it and do nothing to stop it. Justice must be served, for the men who cry out for their mothers and for the moms who will forever ask, “Do you know how I feel right now because I wasn’t there for my son?”

I wanted to learn more about RowVaughn Wells’ son, about who Tyre Nichols was before the world learned his name. It has never sat well with me that when someone’s child is murdered, most of us know them only "in death." I think we should know them in life, too. Tyre Nichols is not a number, a statistic or a news story.

Tyre Nichols was:
A father, a brother, a son
29 years old
An aspiring photographer

He had:
A 4-year-old child
A job with his stepdad
A tattoo of his mom’s name on his arm

He enjoyed:
Landscape photography
Other people’s stories

He was:
A person
A community member
A human being
“A beautiful soul ... a good boy.” 

One of my favorite poets is Leslé Honoré. She writes beautifully, and powerfully, about issues of social (in)justice. Here is an excerpt of her poem #TyreNichols.

"When #TyreNichols cried out
To his mother
In their home
100 feet away
Did your mothers cry out too
As you beat him
Did your grandmothers cry out too
As Tyre bled out
Did your great grandmothers cry out too
As you Pepper Sprayed
Your brother
Did your great great grandmothers
Curse their own wombs
Did your ancestors weep
With disgust
With revulsion
With agony
That this is what became
Of their legacy"

Note: 30Seconds is a participant in the Amazon affiliate advertising program and this post contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission or fees if you make a purchase via those links. 

Take 30 seconds and join the 30Seconds community, and follow us on Facebook to get inspiration in your newsfeed daily. Inspire and be inspired.

Related Products on Amazon We Think You May Like:

30Second Mobile, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Supporting Friends of Color: How to Be a White Ally Without Burdening Your Black Friends

16 Anti-Racism Books for Kids: Books to Help Start a Conversation About Racism & Diversity

20 Best-selling Books About Racism for Adults: Books on Race, White Privilege, Social Justice & Being Black in America

Donna John
My heart breaks for Tyre, his family, his mom, his city and his country. We can do better. Tragic. Beautifully written tribute.
Ann Marie Patitucci
We can definitely do better. It's a shame we're not doing so; this just keeps happening over and over.
Elisa Schmitz
"Justice must be served, for the men who cry out for their mothers and for the moms who will forever ask, 'Do you know how I feel right now because I wasn’t there for my son?'" THIS. While few mothers know this pain, most mothers are crying with RowVaughn Wells, and for the loss of her son, Tyre Nichols. Heart shattering. We can only hope Tyre's death sparks the action needed to make the changes that are so desperately needed. Thank you for this, Ann Marie Patitucci .
Ann Marie Patitucci
That's how I feel, Elisa; most mothers are crying with Ms. Wells. Change is desperately needed indeed. Enough is enough.

join discussion

Please login to comment.

recommended tips

Gifts for College Freshmen: 11 Fun & Practical Gift Ideas for Any College-bound Kid

Beauty Products That Work: 5 Tried-and-True Skin-Care Products That Actually DO Something

20 Awesome Father's Day Gifts for Dad Under $20

Fabulous Father's Day Gift Ideas: 28 Really Cool Gifts That You Can Order for Dad Right Now (or Anytime)