VSU Statement on the Murder of Tyre Nichols

Trojan Family:

Tonight, we brace ourselves for the release of the video vividly chronicling the murder by cop of 28-year-old Tyre Nichols. Mr. Nichols was brutally beaten by members of the Memphis, Tennessee Police Department during a violent arrest following a traffic stop. He was hospitalized and died a few days later.

We grieve this young man, who looks like our brother, cousin, nephew, or son. We mourn this loss for his family and his community, and we join the rest of the country in lifting them in prayer. At the same time, we grapple with the knowledge that Mr. Nichols’ death comes at the hands of five officers, who also look like our brothers, cousins, nephews, and sons. We struggle to understand how these officers can willingly allow themselves to be used as instruments of gross abuse of power and depravity. The five police officers have been fired, arrested, and charged with murder, and we applaud the swift hand of justice in this case.

As each of us grieve and process this brutality in our way, we ask that you also reflect on the work of the tireless, diligent, and caretaking community of upstanding officers who endeavor to keep us safe each day, including our own Virginia State University Police Department.

We use this time also to remind our community that while we encourage civil activism, Virginia State University does not condone violence of any kind and remains committed to providing a safe environment for our Trojan Family. In the coming days, there will be opportunities for expression, activism, and solidarity across campus.

Our VSU Counseling will have extended availability on Saturday from 10:00 am-5:00 pm to accommodate students who may experience difficulty managing their emotions as a result of the violence and brutal imagery witnessed in the video.

As we reflect on our obligation to each other as a community to speak out against wrongdoing, let us not forget the power of standing together and lawfully exercising our right to resist violence without resorting to the same violence that we are resisting.

Ours is a legacy of resilience and strength that comes from our commitment to being our brother’s keeper. Let us be mindful, compassionate, and resolute in our pursuit of a beloved community.

In Trojan Spirit,
Makola M. Abdullah, Ph. D.