Fresh snow and bitter cold did not stop chants from ringing out in the streets of Milwaukee as protesters gathered to condemn police brutality just days after video surfaced of the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols by Memphis police officers.
Sponsored by the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and other groups, a large group of protesters, that included family members of Alvin Cole and Brieon Green — both of whom were killed by police or while in police custody, gathered at Red Arrow Park.
The group then marched down State Street and back down Wisconsin Avenue, making a stop in front of Milwaukee Police Department headquarters to make speeches and call for justice.
Memphis police officers pulled over Nichols, 29, for suspected reckless driving on Jan. 7. The initial police report said only that a “confrontation” occurred, that Nichols fled on foot, and that another confrontation then occurred. The report said Nichols then complained of shortness of breath.
Nichols was hospitalized in critical condition that night. Three days later he died, having suffered “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating,” according to an autopsy commissioned by his family. Federal investigators opened a civil rights investigation Jan. 18. The officers were fired Jan. 20 and charged with murder and other related crimes.
Protests were scheduled across the nation on Sunday.
While Nichols was not killed in Milwaukee, Alan Chavoya, a speaker at the protest and Outreach Chair for the Alliance, said it is important to make a stand because similar things have, and could still, happen in Milwaukee.
“When something like this happens anywhere in the country it is a reminder that it could have happened here, that it has happened here … the problems with police brutality are just as common in Milwaukee so the death of Tyre Nichols is just as tragic here as it is in Memphis,” said Chavoya.
Brieanna Green, twin sister of Brieon Green who died in Milwaukee County Jail, also spoke at the rally as she recalled the life of her late brother and the outrage her family still feels as some of their questions about her brother’s death remain unanswered.
“It’s been seven months and we still have no answers, no transparency, nor seen the whole video of what happened to Brieon Green,” she said. “How many brothers have to die? How many mothers have to cry? How many more marches?”
Local and state officials such as Milwaukee County Sheriff Danita Ball and Gov. Tony Evers made statements in response to the killing of Nichols but protesters said they’re not satisfied with the amount of change they are seeing.
Arturo Memboza, a Milwaukee native who was at the protest, said he came to the march because he wants to see police reform in Milwaukee.
“I’ve lived here a long time and what happened to Tyre Nichols I’ve seen happen multiple times in Milwaukee … how can we let that happen?” Memboza said. “I want a safer community for everyone in Milwaukee and I don’t think the police are creating that.”
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee organizations march in response to killing of Tyre Nichols