New York, NY – Are criminal charges necessary beyond firing over an incident that echoes the 1991 police assault on Rodney King?

The Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of the National Action Network (NAN), has demanded swift charges against the five officers fired after beating Tyre Nichols to death during a traffic stop in Memphis, saying:

“Firing these officers for misconduct is not enough. Justice will only be served when all five are charged with killing Tyre Nichols for the simple act of driving while Black. I have spoken to Tyre’s family, offered my support, and told them I plan to travel to Memphis in the coming days. The fact that these officers are Black makes it more egregious to those of us in the Civil Rights Movement.

These officers should not be allowed to hide their deeds behind their blackness. We are against all police brutality – not just White police brutality. A message must be sent that these lethal levels of force will not be tolerated, ensuring that perpetrators of this violence cannot use their badge to shield themselves from prosecution, so that Tyre’s 4-year-old son can grow up in a world where he does not have to live in fear of those who are supposed to protect and serve us. Authorities must be transparent, which is why it is imperative they release the footage as soon as possible. Thirty-two years after the nation called for us to do better after the brutal beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, our leaders failed Tyre Nichols, Terence Crutcher, and countless others.”