Los Angeles civil rights activist Najee Ali is traveling to Memphis, Tennessee, Tuesday to attend Wednesday’s funeral services for Tyre Nichols — and he’ll arrive with letters of condolence from Lora Dene King, the daughter of Rodney King, and LAPD Chief Michel Moore.
“I look forward to arriving in Memphis, where I will join my friends and mentors Rev. (Al) Sharpton and Attorney (Ben) Crump for the funeral services of Tyre Nichols, whose beating death by five former Memphis police officers now charged with his murder has rocked the nation,” Najee said Monday in announcing his trip.
“Lora Dene King … and LAPD Chief Michel Moore have both given me personal letters of condolences, which I will deliver personally to the Nichols family.”
The 29-year-old Nichols was pulled over in a Jan. 7 traffic stop in Memphis and died at a hospital three days later from a fatal beating at the hands of five Memphis officers that was captured in graphic video. The five officers, who are also Black, have since been fired and charged with murder.
Ali told City News Service that he asked Moore to provide a condolence letter, and that the chief “said yes immediately. He, along with everybody else, has been moved by the tragic death of Tyre Nichols.”
Ali said Moore’s letter is in a sealed envelope. He said King’s letter expresses “her heartfelt condolences to the family and that her prayers are with the Nichols family.”
Moore, during Tuesday’s Board of Police Commissioners meeting, told commissioners that he sent the letter to express “heartfelt feelings of loss and frustration, and anger that his death occurred at the hands of these police officers.”
The chief called the video, made public Friday, “grotesque” and “unimaginable.”
“As a member of this profession for four decades, I have never seen such a clear and violent abuse of authority,” Moore said.
Moore told the commissioners he’s been in touch with Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis, and that he was grateful that she moved swiftly to terminate the officers involved.
“There is no place for this, and it’s just unimaginable in 21st Century policing that this would happen,” Moore said.
Sharpton, the founder of the National Action Network, will deliver the eulogy at Wednesday’s funeral. Crump, who is the attorney for the Nichols family, will deliver a call to action.
Ali is community relations ambassador for Operation Hope Southern California, an arm of the national Operation Hope.
“Operation Hope has a Memphis office location and our staff will also be present to show our organization’s support for the Nichols family and our demand for justice,” he said.
John Hope Bryant, founder and chairman of Operation Hope, is sponsoring the trip, Ali said.
Release of the graphic video on Friday prompted demonstrations across the nation. In Los Angeles, demonstrators gathered in downtown, West Long Angeles and Hollywood on Saturday and were mostly peaceful.
That wasn’t entirely the case Friday night at a gathering at Los Angeles Police Department headquarters. Some in the crowd surrounded parked police cars — banging on them and smacking windows — but no arrests were made and most demonstrators left after being warned by officers at the scene, authorities said.
Moore added that the Saturday protest in Hollywood yielded some vandalism and graffiti on businesses, and that officers recovered spray paint and devices used to shatter windows.