Citizens from all over Yonkers gathered at Hudson Fulton Memorial Park to recognize the death of Tyre Nichols and the many others who have lost their lives from police violence.
On January 7, 2023, six police officers beat and ultimately killed Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee after a traffic stop. On January 27, footage of the incident was released to the public by the Memphis Police Department. This footage has left a scarred nation cut deep yet again by the cruelty endured by certain groups in our society from those sworn to protect them.
To recognize that this heinous act will not be forgotten, a gathering assembled in Northwest Yonkers to support the memory of Tyre Nichols and the other victims his name now rests beside. Since the killing of George Floyd in 2020, a small group of residents led by Susan and George McAnanama and others in this area has come every Monday to support the Black Lives Matter movement and raise awareness of police violence against minorities. But this Monday, in the shadow of the recent tragedy in Memphis, many more in the city came to join their neighbors and increase awareness of this mortal issue.
The event began with nine minutes of silence to memorialize the amount of time George Floyd suffered under a police officer’s knee. Next, the names of victims of police violence were read aloud from signs held by each of the participants. Throughout the event passing cars would honk or drivers would wave in support.
The Yonkers branch of the NAACP was instrumental in organizing this larger event. The president, Frank Coleman, and first vice-president, Kisha Skipper, both provided remarks to the crowd. Margaret Fountain-Coleman, who recently entered the race for mayor, spoke to the people about the need to observe the humanity in each other as a path to overcome the inhumane treatment the group was there to condemn. The current mayor, Mike Spano, also arrived with his security and communications staff in tow. Spano spoke to the cameras about his four brothers in law enforcement and the progress the Yonkers Police Department has made in its training. He hoped, as we all do, that this is the last incident of its kind. Present in the crowd were other elected officials like City Council Members Anthony Merante and Corazon Pineda-Isaac. Both of whom are also seeking the office of Mayor. They stood side-by-side with the Coleman’s and quietly spoke directly with their fellow participants.
During the hour-long action, the possibility of a tragedy like this happening in Yonkers was raised. While the YPD has a checkered past, we have not endured what too many other cities have. The City of Yonkers, YPD, and the Police Benevolent Association have all condemned the actions by the police officers in Memphis. PBA President Keith Olsen remarked that this “will affect how we police here in Yonkers.” What may change in our policing is yet undefined. But, to those who gathered to stand outside in the cold, the solution is clear – implement any and all changes that will prevent the needless deaths of our friends and neighbors.