Last Updated on Saturday, 28 January 2023, 7:43 by Denis Chabrol
by GHK Lall
Tyre Nichols is dead, dead, dead, couldn’t be deader. From, “I can’t breathe” in Minnesota there is this progress to “I’m just trying to go home….” in Memphis, Tennessee. Now he goes home in a casket, and not on his own feet, but feet first. One more fallen, one more statistic, one more poignant memory compiled, but never, ever fading away. How can that be? Man to man can be so unjust. From the first moment of police brass hesitation, to the warnings to condition the family, the tense, and the outraged, I senses that this lethal ‘incident’ was going to be harrowing. It was and is.
I highlight the horror and tragedy of the death of Tyre Nichols, one more mournful dirge in an endless threnody of wailing and hurt, of damage control amidst human anguish, and of learning what? Training and procedures? Thank God, there was no claim for that all-purpose defensive balm about ‘fear for life.’ I am glad that there was no official rush to erect the usual impenetrable blue wall of silence to circle the wagons around the thin blue line standing valiantly between the barbarians and the frail bulwarks of civilization. Another man, the usual kind, gone down in the most unpardonable of circumstances, and another family wrenched and traumatized and devastated, left to count their bitter tears and painful reminiscences.
I relive the gruesome saga of Tyre Nichols to put two simple points on the table before all who still have the interest in thinking for themselves, who are touched by our times, and how problematic it can be for those of us, who still have some residues of a conscience left, some inextinguishable self-respect still remaining. For those who detect or wish to make a connection, to whatever degree, to circumstances that flourish in Guyana, all I say is ‘be my guest.’ The mere fact that I bring that up should convey where I am, where I stand. Whoever, if anybody, decides that there is a correlation, then this caution is necessary: it is not about police brutality, or crimes committed in the name of the State, or defenses drummed up by agents of the same sick State, whether they are official or voluntary. It is of those, and then so much more.
First, look at whose hands, and by whose hands Tyre Nichols was felled. Not one, not two, but five of his own. What point did they wish to prove? What message did they have in mind? To whom did they wish to register their ferocious loyalty, regardless of what it took? And, how did they ever think, could anyone of them believe, that there could and would be justifications for their heinous actions? My point is simple, and though I have made it before in spaces like these, it is beneficial to do so again. There is a saying that the converted is forever trying to outdo peers, those responsible for his or her elevated, inclusive, hailed state and place. The converted, in his or her mind, has to be more fanatical and more fundamentalist, more committed to delivering and delivering more of what is believed will be pleasing to those above, and in the same treasured circle. I point no finger at any Guyanese, for their own fingers point at them in tribute to a job well done, or in condemnation of the works of their pens and voices, their postures and their presences. The disreputable and the degraded would not care, is not touched; the reaction is to become even more inseparably attached to the cause, to the dirty duty that is unsaid, but is expected. Carry the baton, and use it however pleases. Just deliver results. The five black police officers in Tennessee now charged for the murder of Tye Nichols may have expected that their backs were well protected, as is the nature of these things. But, who knows, that may still emerge, with mitigating circumstances found somewhere along the line, and refined for what is called justice.
My second point leaves Tyre Nichols and Tennessee and has as its place of origin, Minnesota, and involved another man name George Floyd. He is just as dead and gone, but not from the knee of his own brothers. Four police officers sturdily imprisoned in a cell of cruelty, which sucked the breath (and life) out of a helpless captive. There were four officers of the law, and not a single one of the four could have summoned the conscience, could have located in his makeup, the light inside to demand, insist: stop! Enough! No more! This has gone too far! No! No! No! And count me out, of this I will have no part.
In Guyana, we see, we hear, we sense, and we discern appalling and unprecedented criminality in government circles, but not many, not more than the fewest of the few could find it themselves to standout by going their own way, by pledging allegiance to what is right, and distancing from what is perverse. Sometimes, we don’t have to write a letter, or make a speech, or lift a finger. All we have to do is stand aside and apart, and let words and deeds, even inaction and body language, relay that this I do not believe, this I cannot identify with, and on this, I will go my own way. Then actually go.
Two Black Americans died, and the crime is murder because nobody wanted to be condemned to the outside of the fraternity. In Guyana, black and brown and others in between are subject to many crimes from heads and shoulders, and the shod feet that kick them. Like some Americans, so also some Guyanese wash their hands in blood, but say that it is the rich dark wine of progress, of truth, of things credible, and of what is lawful.