Tyre Nichols’s Death Acknowledged During All-School Meeting
At yesterday’s all-school meeting, following a celebration of Lunar New Year featuring musical performances and a video presentation, Rivers administrators and students addressed the recent death of Tyre Nichols, an unarmed Black man, at the hands of Memphis police. Nichols was brutally beaten following an unexplained traffic stop, and his killing—along with the release of video footage of the incident—has sparked protests around the country and renewed the focus on police brutality and systemic racism.
Katie Henderson, acting DEI director, John Bower, head of the Middle School, and Melissa Anderson, head of the Upper School, spoke to the gathered students about the incident and its aftermath. Bower noted that the police officers responsible have been fired and charged with second-degree murder.
Beyond that, Anderson made the points that these events are all too familiar; that the wide dissemination of the video creates the potential for viewing Nichols’s death as spectacle; and that the circumstances of his death undermine the appropriate focus on Nichols’s life and his humanity.
That was the thrust of the student presentation that followed. Students from the SHADES affinity group took to the stage to celebrate how Nichols lived—as a father, a skateboarding enthusiast, and a young man with a promising life ahead of him. “We believe it is necessary that Tyre is remembered at Rivers for the impactful life he lived, not the unjust way he died,” said Zoë Powell-McCroey ’24.
Over the next few days, various affinity and solidarity spaces will hold drop-in sessions to help students process the events. As Bower put it in his remarks to the students, “The adults in this community are entrusted with both educating you and nurturing here an environment of humanity. We will strive to find space for you to think and feel this week, to ask questions and to learn.…As we move forward this week, we ask that you show care for yourself and for your peers, awareness, and sensitivity to one another.”