NORFOLK, Va. — Politicians, officials and other leaders across Virginia are expressing thier reactions Friday after the Memphis Police Department released video footage showing the fatal beating of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols by five officers.
The footage shows police violently beating Nichols for three minutes after a traffic stop on Jan. 7. Nichols died three days later, and the officers were charged with murder and other crimes on Thursday.
The graphic video has prompted public outcry across the U.S., and many cities are preparing for possible protests over the police brutalit.
The reactions are no less strong here in Virginia and Hampton Roads, where the Governor urged Virginians to remain peaceful and the Virginia Beach police chief expressed outrage over the police brutality.
Here's what officials in the Commonwealth have said.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin
The hearts of Virginians and our entire nation ache tonight as we struggle with the horrible events in Memphis and grieve for Tyre Nichols and his family. The disturbing and shocking video released this evening displays incomprehensible violence towards another human being and we must condemn these heinous actions.
As we process these agonizing events, I ask those exercising their first amendment rights to do so peacefully. We will ensure Virginians’ first amendment rights as we prioritize and protect the safety of the Commonwealth and all Virginians. We can choose to come together and not further the divide. We must strive each day to better our communities and treat one another with love and respect.
Suzanne and I are praying for the family of Tyre and for the continued safety of the Commonwealth, all Virginians and our men and women in law enforcement.
Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears
Wickedness continues to grip us! Lord, we pray for the family of Tyre Nichols. We pray for the peace of America. 2 Chronicles 7:14.
Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate
It is with a heavy heart that I write to our Virginia Beach Community. After viewing the footage of Tyre Nichol’s arrest, I am outraged, heartbroken, and disappointed.
Outraged at the actions of these former officers and the excessive force unleashed on Mr. Nichols. What we saw on video was an unspeakable and needless tragedy.
Heartbroken for the Nichols family and the Memphis community for the loss of a young man’s life at the hands of those who swore to serve and protect.
Disappointed to see the premise of police brutality continue to sow doubt and mistrust on a profession that I, and so many brave men and women in this great nation, have passionately and unwaveringly devoted our lives to. The actions of those involved are not representative of the policing profession.
It is important that you hear from me that the Virginia Beach Police Department does not condone this behavior. We are committed to providing a safe community for all residents and visitors to our beautiful city.
Today we are united in our sorrow with Mr. Nichols’ loved ones and the people of Memphis. As we process this event, please know you have my commitment that the VBPD will steadfastly continue our efforts to strengthen police relationships and cultivate trust throughout our city. Working together, I trust that the strength and resilience of Virginia Beach will see us past this tragedy.
Virginia Joint Democratic Caucuses & Virginia Legislative Black Caucus
Tyre Nichols was murdered by the very people who had been tasked with keeping him safe. We need accountability, but even more, we need reform and systemic change. We must commit to doing more to guarantee safety and respect for our communities. A system in which a traffic stop ends with someone murdered is a system that is deeply broken.
Tyre Nichols’ family deserves to know what happened. But more than that they deserve to know that something like this will never happen again. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. We have lost fathers, mothers, children, and it’s past time that we have policy and change that guarantees safety and equality. Law enforcement should be there to protect us and no one should ever be in fear for their lives from a traffic stop.
This must end.
Congressman Bobby Scott
Like many across the nation, I was sickened and outraged at the video of the deadly beating of Tyre Nichols at the hands of the police. This is the latest in a lengthy and disturbing list of incidents of police brutality and we cannot let this kind of behavior continue to go unanswered. I have twice voted for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and I would implore Congressional Republicans to stop blocking this critical piece of legislation, so we can have real police accountability and keep our communities safe. My thoughts are with Mr. Nichols’ loved ones and the Memphis community at this time.
Portsmouth Police Chief Stephen Jenkins
Like many around the country, I have watched the released footage detailing the assault and death of Tyre Nichols. The actions of the former officers are appalling and unacceptable. I applaud Memphis PD Chief CJ Davis and Memphis Officials for their swift action. The Portsmouth Police Department stands with the friends and family of Tyre Nichols. It is every officer's duty to protect those we serve and to uphold the constitution. These former officers have betrayed their oath of office and disgraced the Law Enforcement profession. Their horrible actions diminish the public trust that many of us have worked so hard to earn. The Portsmouth Police Department will continue to protect and serve the Citizens of Portsmouth. We will continue our efforts to build trust with the public, increase our transparency, and ensure our policies and procedures are beneficial to the public and that our officers adhere to them.
Watching the brutal killing of Tyre Nichols is not a call for more violence. It is yet another horrifying reminder that the culture of policing must change. Our legislators cannot continue to turn a blind eye to criminal justice reform. We call on every Virginian to call on their legislators to do what is right. Pass legislation that fundamentally changes policing in America.
(Note: The Hampton NAACP will host a Peace Rally For Justice in light of the recent murder of Tyre Nichols, Sunday Jan. 29 at 3 p.m. at Hampton City Hall, 22 Lincoln St.)
This story will be updated as more officials and organizations release statements.