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Protest held in Hartford after body cam video released of Memphis police beating Tyre Nichols

BLM Protest in Hartford Responding to the Killing of Tyre Nichols
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
"We are not going to accept the fact that you beat us like a damn rabid dog in the street," said Cornell Lewis (above) of the Self-Defense Brigade. Lewis led members of his organization and Black Lives Matter protesters to the main office of the Hartford Police Department to make their voices heard after the death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tenn., at the hands of police officers.

People in Connecticut are reacting after the Memphis Police Department released police body camera footage showing officers beating Tyre Nichols. Nichols died in the hospital three days later from injuries related to the beating.

On Saturday, a group of Black Lives Matter activists gathered at Lozada Park in Hartford to call for dignity and police reform. The group then drove to the Hartford Police Department, where they continued the rally and expressed their frustration.

People are not protected under the current system, said Cornell Lewis, a community activist and founder of the Self-Defense Brigade.

“When you hold a young man’s hands open like that, and you work his ribs, his kidney, and his liver, you intend to hurt him,” Lewis said. “That had nothing to do with police work. That has to do with a gang curb stomping, and that’s what they did to that boy.”

BLM Protest in Hartford Responding to the Killing of Tyre Nichols
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody is questioned by Hartford teacher Natalie Langlaise outside police headquarters in Hartford on Saturday, Jan. 28, during a protest against police violence in response to the death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tenn., at the hands of police officers.

Activists say that police-related deaths happen too often and that systematic changes must be addressed.

Natalie Langlaise, a kindergarten teacher in Hartford Public Schools, took part in the protest. Langlaise said she is concerned for future generations and believes education is the platform for changes to be achieved.

“You become a cog in the wheels of oppression, regardless of your skin color, so education on anti-racism and awareness needs to go across the board, regardless of skin color,” Langlaise said.

Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody, who attended the protest, spoke out against police brutality and Nichols’ beating death.

Thody also released a statement on Twitter.

“Incidents such as this damage community trust across the world and at a local level, even when the incident occurs hundreds of miles away,” he wrote. “The members of the Hartford Police Department stand with the family of Tyre Nichols and the entire Memphis community.”

Several police leaders and elected officials across Connecticut issued statements in recent days condemning the Memphis officers’ actions.

“Tyre Nichols should be alive today,” Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement. “His life matters, and my heart breaks for his family, friends, and loved ones. His last word was ‘mom.’”

Lamont added: “We must create a more just society for everyone. I’m committed to continuing that work here in Connecticut.”

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