More than a 100 people came out in below-freezing temperatures to the governor’s residence in St. Paul on Sunday to call for police reform in the wake of the deadly police beating of a 29-year-old Black man in Memphis.
The march and rally, which were organized by Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, comes on the heels of the Memphis Police Department’s release of body cam footage of the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols after a Jan. 7 traffic stop. He died in the hospital a few days later.
In a press release about the rally in front of the Summit Avenue mansion, organizers said the event was held to demand justice for Nichols and others who had died by police violence, adding that the unprecedented number of protests after George Floyd was murdered caused some change, but not enough. The release also noted that the beating death “in many ways that directly evoked the murder of George Floyd, Tyre used his last words to call out for his mother: ‘Mom, mom, mom.’ ”
Toshira Garaway, a local activist and founder of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, thanked the crowd for coming out.
“It means the world when you show up for our families,” she said, adding that “we have a duty to stand up for one another.”
Garaway called the beating of Nichols “pure evil.”
She said people need to have the “mindset that this is my brother, this is my son. It might be your son or someone you love.”
Marques Armstrong, a Black activist who owns a mental health practice and a clothing store, said hearing from the families who came out to the governor’s mansion on Sunday increased both his faith and his hope.
He addressed the fact that the five police officers accused of beating Nichols to death were Black.
“People asked me, are you surprised they’re Black?” he said. “I said, ‘No I’m not. They’re police … when anyone goes into a system is corrupt, it’s not surprising they become corrupt.’ ”
In addition to Garaway’s group, the rally and march was organized by Communities United Against Police Brutality, Black Lives Matter Twin Cities Metro, Black Lives Matter Minnesota and Twin Cities Coalition for Justice.