Tyre Nichols' life and memory was honored Wednesday at a public funeral that's being held in Memphis after he was brutalized by police officers there ... and a lot of powerful sentiments were shared, including the notion that change needs to come in the form of legistlation.
The funeral was held at the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, just outside downtown Memphis, where Rev. Al Sharpton eulogized Tyre. His remakes had just about everybody in attendance on their feet by the end of it ... and for good reason.
RAS started by shedding a spotlight on the families of other victims of police brutality, including the Floyds, the Garners, the Taylors and others -- who traveled to make an appearance, and who know what it's like to go through this. He also shouted out the Veep and other elected officials -- both locally and federally -- who showed face for the funeral.
Moving on to Tyre, the reverend made an analogy to the parable of Joseph in the Well -- as told in the Bible -- and said the 5 officers who beat him that night were just like Joseph's brothers ... thinking that throwing him in the pit would solve their problems and quiet him down.
He went on to describe a point of heartbreaking irony about this tragedy happening in the city of Memphis -- where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968 during a trip where he worked towards getting Black people the right to join the public sector work force ... including the right to work in sanitation, as well as the police force.
He says the fact these 5 Black cops took the work MLK literally died for, and betrayed it by taking the life of one of their brothers is the ultimate slap in the face, aptly saying ... "How dare you?" He said they were "acting like the folks we had to fight against to get you there."
Sharpton hit the point home by saying Dr. King would be astounded to see how far African Americans have come in this country -- citing VP Harris' position -- but he would be outraged to see this instance of fellow Black men acting in this way. Finally, the Reverend's speech reached a crescendo when he said he was a mountain climber ... citing what kept him going.
VP Kamala Harris also shared words at Tyre's memorial after being introduced by Rev. Al Sharpton. She spoke directly to his parents, nodding to their strength and courage in the face of the tragedy ... a moment that drew a huge standing O.
She also talked about mothers around the world praying to God that their babies remain safe for the rest of their lives ... noting that Tyre's parents' own prayers were broken with the loss of his life. She condemned the police officers involved in his death in the strongest of terms ... saying their violence that night was not in line with the pursuit of public safety.
The Veep then called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act ... saying it was overdue. Her remarks were brief, but powerful -- and her presence there was strong.
Civil rights attorney, Ben Crump spoke at the podium as well, and he pointed out something interesting -- praising the fact that the officers were fired/charged so quickly ... but noting, that needs to be the norm anytime this happens ... regardless of the race of the officers.
Crump went down a list of people who've died at the hand of police, and said swift justice was needed in all of those instances too -- which wasn't always the case, as we know.
Of course, Tyre Nichols's family members gave emotional testimonials -- two of his sisters, two brothers and his parents spoke ... including his mother, who was weeping at the mic.
One sister noted how polite Tyre was, even while being brutalized -- and another sister read a moving poem she wrote about going home. His brothers said they had been robbed of the opportunity to know their sibling better ... but said his memory would live on.
Finally, his step-father and mom addressed the congregation. His step-dad thanked everyone who had supported them through this time ... while also calling on legislative change so that this doesn't happen again.
Tyre's mother, RowVaughn Wells, hit that home firmly ... specifically saying the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act needs to be passed ASAP -- otherwise, she said, the next person to die in a similar fashion will have died in vain ... and their blood will be on Congress' hands.
The celebration of life comes just weeks after Tyre was pulled over in a traffic stop ... resulting in a foot pursuit and a horrific beating at the hands of 5 police officers. Body cam and surveillance video that was subsequently released shows the merciless treatment of Tyre as he pled for help.
After they were done with him, the officers left Tyre propped up on one of their squad cars and waited for EMTs to arrive ... who delivered slow and less-than-adequate assistance.
Tyre was hospitalized, and died from his injuries days later.
In the aftermath, the 5 cops were fired and then criminally charged by a grand jury -- they all face second-degree murder charges ... as well as a slew of others, including kidnapping. Another two officers who are said to have been involved in the incident have since been suspended ... and some of the medical personnel who responded that night have been fired.
Protests and demonstrations have erupted nationwide after the footage was released, and a conversation about meaningful police reform in the country has been sparked anew.
Originally Published -- 10:45 AM PT