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Mostly peaceful protests held across the U.S. after release of Tyre Nichols footage

Demonstrators are seen outside the nation's capital on Friday evening, following the release of footage showing the police killing of Tyre Nichols.
Tasos Katopodis
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Demonstrators are seen outside the nation's capital on Friday evening, following the release of footage showing the police killing of Tyre Nichols.

Updated January 28, 2023 at 3:36 AM ET

Numerous mostly peaceful protests were held across the U.S. following Friday's release of body camera footage of the killing of Tyre Nichols. All five officers involved in Nichols' arrest were fired and charged with second-degree murder, assault and kidnapping earlier this week.

Protests in some cities led to the calling of the National Guard, while others affected transit.

In Memphis, where Nichols died, a group of demonstrators gathered at a downtown park and then took to the streets, shutting down the I-55 bridge over the Mississippi River between Memphis and West Memphis. They chanted "no justice, no peace" and "justice for Tyre," closing the bridge for nearly three hours before peacefully disbanding.

In other parts of Memphis, people gathered in churches or small groups to reflect on the wrenching and somber moment for the city.

Officials shut down Grand Central Station in anticipation of protests in New York City, where demonstrators had gathered in Times Square. A protest and march in Boston halted traffic.

A protest in downtown Los Angeles became tense when a small group protesters gathered outside of Los Angeles Police Department headquarters, which was blocked by police in riot gear, according to the Los Angeles Times. Protesters tore town a protective barricade around the building, but there were no immediate reports of arrests.

Other small, but mostly peaceful protests, were also held in Washington, D.C., in Seattle, Detroit and Atlanta, as well as in other cities.

Officials had been preparing for nationwide protests in the days leading up to the release of the footage. President Joe Biden called the videos "horrific," while Antonio Romanucci, a lawyer representing the Nichols family, said the 29-year-old was treated like a "human piñata."

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency this week, and members of the National Guard can be seen in Atlanta, attempting to curb protesters.People could also be seen protesting outside the White House hours after Biden urged citizens "not to resort to violence or destruction."

Also on Friday, White House officials also spoke with mayors in more than a dozen major cities — such as Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Chicago — to brief them on federal assistance.

Nichols' family, including his mother, RowVaughn Wells, and his stepfather, Rodney Wells, asked protesters to remain peaceful.

"I don't want us burning up cities, tearing up our streets, because that's not what my son stood for," Wells said at a vigil for her son on Thursday.

Organizers are planning vigils, marches and demonstrations across the U.S. over the weekend.

Reporting from NPR's Debbie Elliott was included in this post.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Giulia Heyward
Giulia Heyward is a weekend reporter for Digital News, based out of New York. She previously covered education and other national news as a reporting fellow at The New York Times and as the national education reporter at Capital B News. She interned for POLITICO, where she covered criminal justice reform in Florida, and CNN, as a writer for the trends & culture team. Her work has also been published in The Atlantic, HuffPost and The New Republic.

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