Tennessee Republicans move bill to undo police reforms placed after Tyre Nichols's death

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Tennessee Senate Republicans passed a bill that would undo reforms enacted after the fatal beating of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols by police officers last year. 

The Senate-passed bill was supported by the Statehouse Republicans for weeks. The bill is now headed to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s (R) desk. If signed, it would overturn the ordinance passed by the Memphis City Council and apply statewide.

The original ordinance outlawed some traffic stops for minor violations. The legislation would prevent any local laws on traffic stops if an officer identifies or has suspicion that the person driving has broken a local ordinance, state or federal law. 

State Sen. London Lamar, a Democrat representing the district where Nichols was killed, called the bill a “slap in the face.”

“Not only for our city council, but all the local governing bodies in this state, because we’re telling them you are not smart enough to decide policies to help govern your own city,” Lamar said, according to The Associated Press. 

Republicans supported the legislation, saying it will help with reducing crime and showcasing examples where law enforcement uncovered violent crimes during stops. 

“It’s time to take handcuffs off police and put them on criminals where they belong,” state Senator Brent Taylor said, according to The New York Times. 

Nichols, a Black man, was killed in January 2023. All five officers, who are all Black, were charged with second-degree murder and civil rights violations in state court. The Department of Justice is conducting a probe into whether Memphis Police Department officers use excessive force or employ racially discriminatory policing practices.

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