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Let justice roll down like a river

The nation comes together to condemn the killing of Tyre Nichols and demand justice

Mourners visit a makeshift memorial where police beat Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tenn., on Jan. 28. Associated Press/Photo by Gerald Herbert

Let justice roll down like a river
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Twenty-nine-year-old Tyre Nichols is dead. The world has now seen the horror of how he died. Five police officers, sworn to serve and protect their city of Memphis, Tenn., stopped Nichols. Nichols later fled from them. When they caught him, they held his arms down while demanding he raise his hands to surrender. They punched and beat him, and, in his last gasps, he begged for his mother. We saw nothing less than a tragedy and injustice for which satisfaction is demanded. In horror, the justice system cannot bring Nichols back, but it can right the injustice done to him. And it must.

Some loud, contrarian voices rushed forward to note that had Nichols not fled the police, he would still be alive. Given what all can now witness, none can be sure that would be the case. We can all be sure that, regardless of other circumstances, a young man did not deserve to be beaten to death for alleged reckless driving. The natural inclination in this should be a broken heart.

Others have claimed that, though all five policemen were black, they were just instruments of white supremacy. This is an utterly falsifiable claim that must be stretched to ever more absurd propositions to justify the sway it holds over some Americans. Postmodern intersectional justice claims are rooted in the belief that the world is defined by a dialectic of oppressors and the oppressed. White men are the supreme oppressor, and when black men act as oppressors, they are just releasing their frustration with their own oppression.

The solution proposed is to subvert the dominant paradigm, but this goes past reality and devolves into mythology. Memphis is a predominantly black city with a black police chief and a majority black city council. None of them are to blame for this anymore than race is a factor. Five individuals failed Tyre Nichols, and their city and justice will now work against them.

No words can heal this. But Christ can comfort, heal, and restore all things.

The Christian worldview echoes throughout this tragedy. We live in a fallen world. This world is filled with people who, having obtained power, often abuse that power. The world is full of injustice, but the institutions of the world, while often failing to behave justly, can also administer justice. Therefore, God calls for us to let justice roll like a river, and justice—we hope—will be served in the shocking outrage of what we all witnessed.

The five police officers have been terminated from their jobs and are in jail. They will be prosecuted for murder and, if found guilty, live out their days behind bars with some of those they previously brought to justice. Tyre Nichols will not be brought back, but our justice system must restore justice to the police force of Memphis and punish those who took his life. It is not perfect, but the system is working, right now, even as those five police officers failed it.

For the contrarians and doubters, it must be noted that upon witnessing the videos, the police investigators acted promptly. There were no arguments about both sides being at fault. The justice system acted as we should want when injustice such as this happens. Now the city of Memphis has ended the police special unit of which those officers were a part. The city and the state of Tennessee will work to train all its law enforcement officers better.

So many people now weep for Tyre Nichols, and for those who loved him. As he lay beaten, broken, gasping, and dying, he cried out for his mother, who could not comfort him. The police, who swore to protect and serve, instead beat and killed him. No words can heal this. But Christ can comfort, heal, and restore all things. A sinful society can still act for Christ to administer the justice He demands.

Already, loud voices have sought to use Nichols’ death to advance their own agendas — agendas often grounded in division and animosity. The Nichols’ family has called for peace. Christ calls for justice. The imperfect justice system will work as best it can. Those not in that system can and should pray for justice to be done, pray for the Nichols’ family and all the grieving families of Memphis, and pray that our nation might be healed.

Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson is a lawyer by training, has been a political campaign manager and consultant, helped start one of the premiere grassroots conservative websites in the world, served as a political contributor for CNN and Fox News, and hosts the Erick Erickson Show broadcast nationwide.

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