EXCLUSIVE: Vice President Harris to attend the funeral of Tyre Nichols
The vice president accepted a personal invitation after calling the family to extend her condolences.
Vice President Kamala Harris will be attending the funeral service of Tyre Nichols on Wednesday in Memphis, Tennessee, theGrio exclusively reports.
Harris was personally invited by the family of Nichols after the vice president spoke to his mother RowVaughn Wells and stepfather Rodney Wells over the phone, according to a White House official. The official said the vice president expressed her deep condolences and offered the family support.
TheGrio also learned from another source that RowVaughn Wells is “devastated” over the loss of her son and was “having a hard time” during the 30-minute call.
Ben Crump, the attorney representing the Wells family, said in a statement to theGrio that Vice President Harris “consoled” Mrs. Wells and “even helped her smile for a bit.”
“We’re pleased that she accepted their invitation. Mr. And Mrs. Wells are grateful for the vice president reaching out to them during this heartbreaking time and her sensitivity on the call,” said Crump.
Vice President Harris will be joined by other administration officials, including White House Director for the Office of Public Engagement Keisha Lance Bottoms and senior advisor to the president Mitch Landrieu.
Nichols, 29, died after being beaten by Memphis police officers earlier in January during a traffic stop. Five officers have since been fired and charged with second-degree murder, among other charges. A sixth officer was relieved of his duty on Monday.
On Friday, after the police body camera footage was publicly released, Vice President Harris, in a statement, said, “Tyre Nichols should have made it home to his family” and that “the footage and images released tonight will forever be seared in our memories, and they open wounds that will never fully heal.”
She added, “I join President Biden in his call for accountability and transparency. We must build trust—not fear—within our communities.”
She also joined President Biden in calling on Congress to “act with urgency” to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would tighten accountability laws for members of law enforcement. “To truly honor Tyre Nichols’ memory, and the memory of so many others before him, we must demand that our justice system lives up to its name,” said the vice president.
President Joe Biden also released a statement, saying, “We must do everything in our power to ensure our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment, and dignity for all.”
On the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue, lawmakers are in session and expected to cast votes. An official at the Congressional Black Caucus told theGrio that the caucus is sending a letter and flowers for the funeral. Meanwhile, Nichols family has accepted an invitation to President Biden’s State of the Union address on Feb. 7 from CBC chair, U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford.
Rev. Al Sharpton, who will deliver the eulogy at the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, told theGrio it’s a “great moment” for the family to see Vice President Harris “interrupt her schedule to join us to remember their son to underscore the concern around police brutality and police misconduct.” Sharpton said it also signals how seriously the administration is taking the issue of police reform.
Vice President Harris also attended the funeral of the African-American victims of the racially-targeted Buffalo mass shooting in New York last year at the request of Sharpton. “I don’t know any Vice President who has always showed up when we were grieving in Black America and America in general, and I give a lot of credit,” said Sharpton.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson commended the vice president’s decision to attend Tyre Nichols’ funeral but said he also wants to see a renewed push for Congress to pass the Floyd bill. “We need Congress to do their job to ensure that there’s accountability in policing across the country,” he told theGrio.
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