Local prayer vigil in memory of Tyre Nichols
SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- The recent death of Tyre Nichols and the release of the video capturing what led up to it has sparked protests across the country, but in South Bend, it sparked a prayer vigil.
“We thought that holding a prayer vigil on Sunday would be very appropriate just to honor the life of Tyre,” says Jordan Giger, Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter South Bend and organizer of the prayer vigil.
City leaders and community members gathered to pray and reflect on the issue of police brutality and police reform, because it’s something that has affected the entire country, and hits home in South Bend.
“The same types of cases are happening here in South Bend,” says Giger. “There have been recent instances of officer-involved murders, or killings, and there are also cases of excessive force.”
In Michiana, one of the most recent deadly encounters with police was Dante Kittrell’s, who was shot and killed after a standoff with South Bend officers back in July when he waved around a replica gun threatening to take his own life. Although the shooting was ruled justified, the city has since taken steps to prevent mental health crises ending in police intervention or death, like the opening of a 24/7 mental health crises center.
Local community members say more work like this needs to be done across the country when it comes to accountability from police officers.
“We have to work on accountability,” Giger says. “We’ve got to create alternatives to policing, and that’s why we believe in the city deploying non-violent responders to crimes or cases where police presence really isn’t needed.”
They are pushing for more legislation, even locally, that would help to change these outcomes of residents being killed by the police that are supposed to serve them.
“We do not have a reliable mechanism by which to report claims or have them investigated,” Giger says. “They don’t need to die over minor traffic stops, they don’t need to die because they may be burglarizing a car, so we just have to have the imagination, the courage to do something different.”