Vigil for Tyre Nichols Held in Mineola

tyre nichols
Community advocates gather to remember Tyre Nichols and speak out against police racism and brutality.
Courtesy LI United

Community activists held a vigil for Tyre Nichols, a Memphis man who was beaten to death by five cops in January, and rallied against police brutality on Sunday, Jan. 29.

The gathering in front of the Nassau legislative building in Mineola brought out a couple dozen residents and advocacy leaders who hoped to bring awareness to racism and violence in the policing system after the latest high-profile killing by police. A video of Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, being beaten to death by five Black officers was released by the Memphis Police Department on Friday, Jan. 27.

“Police culture allows for excessive force and brutality against people of color regardless of the color of the officer,” said Gahrey Ovalle, a community leader in Suffolk County. “Violence is natural to the conduct of law enforcement.”

Activists from the groups LI United to Transform Policing and Community Safety, End Qualified Immunity NY, New York Communities for Change, and Long Island Advocates for Police Accountability all spoke during the event. 

Fred Brewington, of Long Island Advocates for Police Accountability, noted that for every one white person arrested in Nassau County, 5.3 Black people are arrested. 

“America should not allow the people that had their country built on their backs to live in fear and live in concern,” Brewington. “I’m calling on everyone – on [County Executive Bruce Blakeman and Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder] to make an appointment with us. Because we’re ready to meet. We’re ready to talk.”

Brewington pointed to the People’s Plan, which advocates presented to the Nassau Legislature in 2021 but was largely dismissed as the county drew up police reform measures, as a solution to racism in policing. 

Throughout the event, chants of “No Justice, No Peace” broke out amongst the crowd. They also chanted Tyre Nichols’ name and shined their phone flashlights in his memory.

The five officers who beat Nichols were fired from the department and charged with murder. An additional two officers have been suspended in connection with the incident. Nichols’ funeral is taking place Wednesday, Feb. 1 in Memphis.