On Wednesday afternoon, loved ones of Tyre Nichols laid the 29-year-old to rest at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church following his death at the hands of Memphis police.
“Mothers around the world, when their babies are born, pray to God when they hold that child, that that body and that life will be safe for the rest of his life,” said Vice President Kamala Harris. “Yet we have a mother and a father who mourn the life of a young man who should be here today.”
Nichols was driving home on the night of Jan. 7 when he was pulled over by members of the Memphis Police Department’s SCORPION unit.
The brutal beating by cops that followed —laid bare in shocking body-cam and pole-cam video that showed him crying out for his mother— has reignited protests and nation-wide calls to end police brutality. Nichols died three days later from his injuries.
“Let our memory of Tyre shine a light, a path toward peace and justice,” added Harris, as Nichols’ mother emotionally applauded her calls for police reform.
Before Harris’ speech, images of Nichols’ smile flashed across screens as a soloist sang soaring notes with lyrics such as “everything is gonna be alright” and “fight on.”
The memorial began at 1 p.m. local time after a weather delay, and was slated to include choir music, prayers, and scriptures, as well as a call for action from the family’s legal team. Freezing weather in Memphis caused flight cancelations and travel delays of even family lawyer Benjamin Crump, according to The Washington Post.
Multiple looming figures in politics and social justice were present, most notably Harris and the reverend—and eulogist—Al Sharpton.
Family members of other Black Americans killed by police —like Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Jalen Randle— also gathered to remember the Fed Ex worker, photographer and skateboarding aficionado.
Randle’s mother Tiffany Rachal was one of the first voices to lead off the funeral, extending her condolences to Nichols’ mother RowVaughn Wells and singing.
“We are fighting together,” she said before dedicating a song to Wells.
Five of the Memphis cops shown on horrific body camera footage—Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith—have been fired and charged with murder and kidnapping.
Two other officers were relieved of duty, including Preston Hemphill, who is white, according to the Memphis Police Department.
Two emergency medical technicians and another fire department employee have also been fired.