URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) – Across the country and in Central Illinois, people are taking to the streets and demanding change. Dozens of protestors gathered in Urbana Sunday to honor the memory of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, a man who died in Memphis after he was beaten by police earlier this month, with camera footage capturing the violent encounter.
Organizers are now asking the city of Urbana to consider removing restrictions on the civilian police review board and adding disciplinary measures into their contract. That was just one layer of the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s call to action.
“The fact that people are standing in solidarity in Atlanta, Boston, New York City [and] Los Angeles just shows how deeply felt this issue is,” organizer Nino Brown said.
Now, you can add Urbana to the list of cities mourning a life lost hundreds of miles away.
“This is not a Memphis problem, this is not a Los Angeles problem or Brooklyn, New York,” Brown said. “This is a national problem that we all have to face as a country.”
The problem, organizers like Brown say, is bigger than just racism.
“It wasn’t just those five black cops that killed Tyre. It was an entire system. There’s a thousand and one things that happened before that incident,” he said. “As a black man in America, it really hurts.”
Brown said Nichols reminds him of his older brother.
“He was very alternative, a skateboarder, marched to the beat of his own drum,” he said.
Brown said he wants to turn his pain into something productive. That’s why he and dozens of others marched for justice and police accountability – something they’ve done many times before.
“But here we are again, out in the streets, in the very cold, to make our voices heard over the murder of Tyre Nichols,” one organizer said.
Brown addressed the footage released by police, saying: “we all saw what happened to Tyre Nichols. We saw his face.”
“As the video revealed, they beat this man senseless,” Brown said.
He said while they showed up for Nichols Sunday, they were also there for Keenan Anderson, Jayland Walker, and those he called “countless” other victims of police brutality.
“It may be cold. We may be small. But we are on the right side of history,” Brown said.
The Associated Press reports that the Memphis Police Department has disbanded the unit that responded to Tyre Nichols the day he was beaten. All five officers have been let go from the department.