By Michael Apfel and Audrey Sawyer
MEMPHIS, TN — Vice President Kamala Harris this week appeared on behalf of the White House at the funeral of Tyre Nichols who died in early January after he was beaten to death by Memphis police, sparking national outrage as those around the country call for police reform.
VP Harris argued she believed the killing was not in line with standard police activity, but was instead an unnecessary act of violence.
“This violent act was not in pursuit of public safety; it was not in the interest of keeping the public safe,” said Harris. “Because one must ask – was it not in the interest of keeping the public safe that Tyre Nichols would be with us here today? Was he not also entitled to the right to be safe?”
Harris noted she co-authored the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act while she was a senator, and how as Vice President she asked Congress to finally pass the act, exclaiming, “We demand that Congress pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act – Joe Biden will sign it.”
“I want to thank you for all you do, for there are so many families here who have been personally touched by your leadership and your strength and your fellowship,” said Harris.
Many in the community attended the funeral, with NPR reporting that more than 2,500 were in attendance. Kamala thanked those in attendance, commending Nichols’ parents for their bravery.
“Mrs. Wells, Mr. Wells – you have been extraordinary in terms of your strength, your courage, and your grace, and we mourn with you and the people of our country mourn with you,” said Harris.
During the Vice President’s speech, she commented on the senselessness of Nichols’ death, calling for better policing.
“We have a mother and a father who mourn the life of a young man who should be here today. They have a grandson who now does not have a father,” said Harris.
The VP added, “His brothers and sister will lose the love of growing old with their baby brother. And when we look at this situation, this is a family that lost their son and their brother through an act of violence at the hands and the feet of people who had been charged with keeping them safe.”