About 50 people gathered in East Liberty Saturday afternoon to protest the police killing of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who was beaten to death by Memphis Police Department officers earlier this month. 

“We’re here to demand justice for Tyre and justice for all victims of police brutality,” Stephanie Pavlick, 27, an organizer with Party for Socialism and Liberation, told the crowd. “What gives the cops the right to be judge, jury and executioner?”

On Friday night, the city of Memphis released footage of the Jan. 7 beating of Nichols, who died three days later. The five officers involved — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith, all of whom are Black — were fired and indicted on several charges each, including second-degree murder and aggravated assault. 

The rally was organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation and held outside the Pittsburgh Obama Academy. Advocates called on local leaders to enforce reforms that gained prominence during the international protest movement that followed the murder of George Floyd in 2020. 

“It is not possible to simply just fire a couple police officers that are bad. Rather, we must fundamentally address the failures in the system itself,” Dakota Castro Jarrett, a 19-year-old advocate with the Socialist Alternative Party, told the crowd. “We’re all sick of seeing innocent people being brutally murdered.”

Dakota Castro Jarrett speaks during the rally.

Advocates criticized Mayor Ed Gainey’s administration, specifically the enforcement of the youth curfew and the continued spending on the police department. Mayor Gainey released his own statement Saturday acknowledging the family’s loss. 

“Tyre should be alive today, and his murder at the hands of law enforcement makes it clear that our work to change the culture of policing is critical for our city and our country,” the statement read. “We respect and understand the need for protest.” 

Rebecca is a social services reporter at the Post-Gazette, but she's currently on strike.

Rebecca Spiess

Rebecca is a social services reporter at the Post-Gazette, but she's currently on strike.