Tyre Nichols' death: Police reform advocates push for change in Minnesota

The death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police officers is prompting protests and calls for change across the country, and now, what happened in Memphis could impact Minnesota.

Five officers participated in the arrest and beating — Nichols’ died three days later.

All five were fired and charged with second-degree murder.

A second day of protests over Nichols’ death drew hundreds of people to the streets of Memphis Saturday.

Minnesota voices are also re-entering the conversation.

A group of police reform advocates that held a press conference Saturday morning argue that police culture encourages the type of conduct seen in the videos released Friday night.

They say they’re praying for the people of Memphis.

"While they’re trying to deal with their grief, we know what people will say: ‘Are they going to loot? Are they going to riot?’" said Wayfinder Foundation executive director Nekima Levy 

"That’s the focus — material things, not human lives that are needlessly taken," Armstrong added. 

"We have failed George Floyd," said CAIR-MN executive director Jaylani Hussein.

He says activists need to head back to the Capitol with the same intensity they brought after Floyd’s murder.

He blames both Republican and Democratic legislators but says the DFL could pass police reform and accountability laws now that they control both legislative houses and the governor’s mansion.

Instead, he says it doesn’t even seem to be on their agenda.

"Empty words of saying things that don’t mean anything are not going to bring Tyre back and they’re not going to save the other victim that the police are going to kill in minutes, in days from now," Hussein said. "What will do is actual policies."

Protests in Memphis may have already had an impact.

On Saturday, the police department disbanded the SCORPION special unit on which the five officers served.

And Minnesota Rep. Cedrick Frazier, DFL-New Hope, says police reform is on the agenda this session.

"Making sure we have true accountability and we have true public safety, true community safety for everyone in every community — no matter what your zip code is, no matter what your skin color is — that is the goal and we will always be working towards that," he said.

Frazier says he expects hearings on police reform bills addressing qualified immunity, pre-textual traffic stops, and no-knock warrants, among other issues.