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Viola Davis, Tyler Perry, Justin Timberlake Respond to Tire Nichols’ Death: “We Demand Justice”

Viola Davis, Tyler Perry, Justin Timberlake and Questlove were among Hollywood notables who shared comments on social media about Tire Nichols, who died earlier this month after an altercation with Memphis police officers during a Tennessee traffic stop.

Body camera and surveillance video of the January 7 attack were released Friday, showing the beating that led to the 29-year-old’s hospitalization and death from his injuries. The footage shows Nichols telling officers, “I’m just trying to get home,” while also yelling for his mother. On Thursday, the five fired police officers were charged with murder.

Perry took to Instagram to share a photo of Nichols and describe his own conflicted feelings about whether or not to watch the footage of the incident. “A lot of people can’t imagine it happening to them because honestly it never will,” he wrote of himself wanting to avoid the video at first. “I was determined to see what that space felt like. I was going to cover my ears and not let the outside in.”

Explaining that his goal “wasn’t possible,” he continued, “So today I’ll cry, I’ll be depressed, I’ll swear, I’ll be indignant, I’ll want to burn some shit, I’ll be in agony, I will make my heart break for his family, i will moan with his tenor harmony from my own experience, that’s every black man who has ever cried for the safety of mama’s arms, i will scream inaudibly.

Debbie Allen, Tina Knowles and Kym Whitley were among those who praised Perry’s post in the comments section. Knowles wrote that she too struggled with whether to watch but was ultimately “forced to force myself to watch it” and described what she saw as “heartbreaking.”

Davis and Niecy Nash both took to Instagram to share a black square with the words written in white, “Just trying to get home.” In the caption of their identical posts was a message attributed to MeToo founder Tarana Burke that read, “Sometimes a lot. Sometimes a prayer. Sometimes a frustration. Sometimes a fear. Sometimes impossible.” The posts also added the hashtag #werehereagain.

Timberlake, born in Memphis, tweeted that he was heartbroken and angry. “I stand with my hometown and the people of Memphis as we demand justice and accountability,” he wrote.

Questlove shared a number of posts and messages about the incident, including one discouraging people from viewing the footage: “For The Love Of God. Torture P*rn will not serve your soul.

W. Kamau Bell was one of the social media users who drew comparisons to police officers who beat Rodney King in 1991. “I remember the attack on Rodney King,” Bell tweeted. “I remember how many of us thought the images would change everything. Finally there was ‘evidence’. Now every day there are images of police mistreating us. These images are in HD and often come from the police. Nothing changes.”

LeBron James retweeted a message from activist and podcast host Brittany Packnett Cunningham about systemic racism and the fact that all five traffic control officers are black. James added: “Too factual!!!”

These and other responses, including those from President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, Octavia Spencer, and Mark Ruffalo, are below.

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