(NewsNation) — Several news outlets have reported officials in the city of Memphis are “bracing themselves” for protests and possible violence following the release of a police video showing the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols.
“The media has made a habit of making those types of statements,” Ameshia Cross, a Democratic political activist, said on “Dan Abrams Live” Thursday night. “This isn’t the first time and I doubt it will be the last.”
Cross noted that the media also did the same thing in the case of Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old who was fatally shot by a Chicago police officer, and Breonna Taylor, 26, a medical worker who was shot and killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky.
“It’s a media tactic, when in all honesty, we see in very few of these cases that there have actually been extreme situations of violence,” Cross said. “Protests are a part of American democracy that happen and, quite frankly, too many unarmed Black people have become hashtags across social media because police officers have used excessive force.”
Nichols, a 29-year-old FedEx worker and father, was pulled over for reckless driving on Jan. 7 while returning home from a suburban park, where he had taken photos of the sunset.
Video Nichols’ family saw on Monday shows that he was stunned with a stun gun, pepper sprayed and restrained during his encounter with five Memphis police officers.
Protests, Cross says, are not the problem. Her frustration lies with the media assuming that Black people will just “riot in the streets.”
“That is extremely dangerous,” Cross said. “We see people holding signs, we see them wanting to hold police accountable in their own hometowns, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.”
Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith, who were involved in Nichols’ arrest, were fired last Friday after a police probe determined they used excessive force or failed to intervene and render aid. All five men have received multiple charges, including second-degree murder.
“There’s no hint of defensive posturing. No one is defending the officers except for their attorneys. To this point, the message has been clear,” Abrams said. “A determination was made that a very serious crime was committed.”
RowVaughn Wells, center, mother of Tyre Nichols, who died after being beaten by Memphis police officers, is comforted by his stepfather Rodney Wells, at the conclusion of a candlelight vigil for Tyre, in Memphis, Tenn., Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
However, Abrams said he’s sure there will still be protests. But, he added, instead of trying to follow the Memphis police chief’s lead and calm everyone down, the media is “ginning up unrest.”
“We shouldn’t have to brace for violence, no matter how bad the video is. That would not and doesn’t justify violence,” Abrams said.
Abrams questioned the point of the protests, as the police were charged. Cross replied that for every case that gets national news attention, there are hundreds across America that do not.
“I think that for those individuals who do choose to protest, who are holding those signs, who are marching, they’re bringing light to the issues in their own communities of police brutality,” Cross said.