NYU community gathers to honor Tyre Nichols at vigil

The Black Muslim Initiative at NYU held a vigil in honor of Tyre Nichols on Thursday, in partnership with the university’s offices for inclusion and spiritual life.


Jason Alpert-Wisnia

Cameron Grant, the senator at-large for men of color at NYU, speaks to a crowd gathered at the Kimmel Center for University Life. (Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

Jenny Seo, Staff Writer

Nearly 100 students and faculty gathered at a vigil for Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old man who died after being beaten by Memphis police late last month, on the steps of the Kimmel Center for University Life. Student leaders and administrators called for action against police brutality and offered resources to students and faculty.

Nichols was beaten by five police officers, who have since been charged with murder, at a traffic stop on Jan. 7, and died of his injuries in hospital three days later. Memphis authorities released footage of the attack on Jan. 28, sparking protests across the country — including a gathering of hundreds at Washington Square Park.

Linda Lausell Bryant, the associate dean for academic affairs at the Silver School of Social Work, urged students to use their voices to denounce racism and police violence. 

“We need to recognize the power that we hold collectively, the power to hold people accountable, the power to hold them accountable through our electoral choices,” Bryant said. “I think about the power that each of us holds even individually, our own rhetoric, our own things we post, ways in which we engage with other people in social media, we all have the capacity to begin to bring or restore civility.”

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  • (Adelle Drake for WSN)

  • The gathered crowd participates in a minute of silence in memory of Tyre Nichols. (Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

  • Rafael Rodriguez, the dean of students, commences the vigil. (Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

  • NYU community members sit in a moment of prayer for Tyre Nichols. (Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

  • Cameron Grant, the senator at-large for men of color at NYU, speaks to a crowd gathered at the Kimmel Center for University Life. (Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

  • (Adelle Drake for WSN)

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The five former police officers involved in the incident are facing charges including aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault and second-degree murder. The police unit responsible for the incident has also been disbanded.

Cameron Grant, the senator at-large for men of color on NYU’s student government, spoke about how police brutality affects Black communities.

“I want to be honest with you — I’m tired,” Grant said. “I’m tired of having to stand here and explain to people why this young Black man was murdered. I’m tired of listening to justifications. I’m standing here today because I had to sit behind the computer and try to come up with ways to make this make sense. This doesn’t make sense.”

The vigil was announced on Jan. 30. The following day, the student government released a statement about Nichols’ killing.

“We feel tremendous anger and sadness for yet another instance of police brutality and the continued cycle of violence perpetrated by the police,” the statement reads. “Tyre Nichols was a father, a son, and a creator whose life mattered — and that is how we will always remember him.”

Lamisa Khan, a junior at NYU who attended the gathering, called attention to instances of police violence in New York City.

“It’s really important to recognize that as much as we like to tout NYU as being a progressive school, or as having a diverse campus, or New York City being diverse, that this is something that happens in this very city,” Khan said. “The New York City Police Department has also been involved in many, many cases of police brutality.”

Contact Jenny Seo at [email protected].