Greater Sacramento NAACP Condemns Institutional Racism in Law Enforcement–Black Law Enforcement Officers Are Just as Likely to Kill Black Men as White Officers Because of Assimilation to White Supremacy Roots
Sacramento, CA. January 26, 2023: The Greater Sacramento branch of the NAACP will hold a press conference regarding the killing of Tyre Nichols on Friday, January 27, 2023 at 2:30PM in the courtyard behind Sacramento City Hall on 915 I Street in advance of the mass-media release of the incident’s video at 4pm Pacific Time.
We weep with the community here and in Memphis as we add the name Tyre Nichols, another local Black man killed by a system rooted in white supremacy. The 29 year-old father, brother, cousin, friend and son was a beloved, free spirit who called Sacramento his home until his move to Memphis, TN in 2020. Mr. Nichols was pronounced dead on January 10, 2023 after being brutally beaten by Memphis law enforcement. Our hearts and prayers go out to Tyre’s loved ones.
“He was his own person and didn’t care if he didn’t fit into what a traditional Black man was supposed to be in California. He had such a free spirit and skating [skateboarding] gave him his wings,” Angelina Paxton said. [Christina Zdanowicz and Jaide Timm-Garcia, CNN]
The Sacramento Region is no stranger to law enforcement violence. Black men are pulled over by Sacramento Police at a rate almost 5 times that for white men. It took a federal lawsuit (Mays v. Sacramento) to hold Sacramento County and Sheriff accountable for inhumane treatment in the county jails–where almost 40% of the people inside are Black while the county’s Black population is only 11%. The death of Tyre Nichols weighs heavily regardless of which law enforcement institution in this country caused his death.
The GSNAACP applauds the Memphis District Attorney and police chief for swiftly investigating, arresting, and charging the officers related to this heinous act. However, we continue to watch closely to see whether these standards of civil servant accountability are applied consistently across racial lines in the U.S.
The NAACP educates the public about law enforcement’s history of white supremacy culture. “When anyone joins that system, regardless of the race of the officer, they are indoctrinated to the traditions and practices of that system to maintain the status quo regardless of the person’s
intent. That’s the nature of white supremacy culture–it lives in systems unless we actively change the structure and cultures of those systems.” states GSNAACP President Betty Williams.
III Vice President, Tijuana Barnes adds “Despite best efforts of de-escalation training programs, officers are trained to use the power of their badge and gun before responding with active care and humanity.”
After Stephon Clark’s murder, the NAACP supported the family and then Assemblymember Shirley Weber in legislating changes in accountability standards with AB 392. We call for further policy changes that will reinvent policing culture and we endeavor to share our legislative successes with the Memphis NAACP to support their legislative efforts.
Major changes are needed in the roles, practices, and training of law enforcement. Policymakers should steer budgets to hold law enforcement accountable for the long term vision of public safety and create personally-accountable goals for officers to restore people to health. That includes health-related quality of life issues including basic needs, economic and mental health, and medical care.
Punitive accountability leads to the deterioration of all of the quality of life for entire communities. If we center health equity, cultural humility, human dignity, and restoration in the accountability structure of law enforcement, abuse of power diminishes.
The NAACP will continue to fight against these tragedies. We are shedding light on the changes states and communities must enact through policies and practices. We urge the public to continue to give generously to Mr. Nichol’s family through AngeLink and join us in peaceful protest through these days of grieving.
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