As the city of Memphis braces for the release of police video depicting five officers viciously beating Tyre Nichols, Reverend Kevin Peterson urged restraint and a non-violent response in Boston.
"As the images of the video come to light this evening, we urge the people of Boston to remain composed," said Peterson, founder of Boston-based New Democracy Coalition. "Voice your discontent if you need to. Express your anger if you feel compelled but challenge your rage in seeking justice. We should embrace non-violence over the instinct of striking back with violence."
The five Memphis officers were charged Thursday with second-degree murder in the killing of Nichols, who died three days after his violent confrontation with officers during the January 7 traffic stop.
Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told a news conference that although the officers each played different roles in the killing, "they are all responsible."
Nichols' family members and their lawyers said the footage shows officers savagely beating the 29-year-old FedEx worker for three minutes in an assault that the legal team likened to the infamous 1991 police beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King.
Memphis Police Director Cerelyn Davis described the officers' actions as "heinous, reckless and inhumane," and said Friday that her department has been unable to substantiate the reckless driving allegation that prompted the stop.
The Boston reverend believes the expectedly grisly video to resonate amongst Boston's Black population.
"Memphis is a thousand miles away but for every black man and black woman in Boston, Tyre Nichols represents the possibility of their fate at the hands of local police," said Peterson. "Still we must have hope and seek justice and push forward reform."
He also called the incident "yet another indicator of how far we must move toward achieving justice for poor and black people in Boston."
The video is expected to release at 7:00 p.m. ET after work and schools have let out for the weekend.
As a precaution, Memphis area schools canceled all after-class activities and postponed a school event scheduled for Saturday morning. Other early closures include the Memphis power company's community offices and the University of Memphis.
Reverend Peterson hopes that Boston's Friday night will remain peaceful - and perhaps even become a point of progress in the city.
"We call for calm and composure and respect for the local police. We also call for police to use restraint. And we call for greater reforms in the Boston Police Department."
The Massachusetts State Police released a statement Friday afternoon that reads:
"The Massachusetts State Police are prepared to protect people's rights of lawful and peaceful expression and the safety of the general public."
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