Sonoma State University Statement On Killing of Tyre Nichols

Friday, January 27, 2023, 5:15pm

TO: Campus Community
FR: Mike Lee, Ph.D., Interim President; Jerlena Griffin-Desta, Ph.D., Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

News accounts indicate that it took three minutes for Memphis police officers to "pepper-spray, taser, beat, and restrain" Tyre Nichols on January 7th after an alleged traffic violation. And three days later Nichols succumbed to the effects of this devastating pummeling.

But, we have been here before. Say their names: Daunte Hill; Andre Hill; George Floyd; Breonna Taylor; and many others. Yet we as a campus community know better to not attach any normalizing context to such outrageous, horrific, inhumane acts like the murder of Tyre Nichols. The breathtaking violence is hard to watch. This level of cruelty and complete disregard for human life threatens the humanity in all of us when we do not speak up, speak out, and commit to holding our public safety institutions into account. 

We recognize that seeing this video might bring to bear a host of feelings; anger, frustration, sadness, helplessness, and even defiance, in that seeing this unbelievable brutality might move you to action of some kind.  As a Sonoma State campus community, guided by our Seawolf Commitment, let us conduct ourselves in a thoughtful and peaceful manner befitting the memory of Tyre Nichols. We need to extend the grace, reason, empathy, and compassion with others that were not afforded to Nichols.

The day the Memphis police released the video of Nichols’ beating also happens to be the beginning of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, giving us one more reminder that cycles of violence targeting specific groups continues, if not unchallenged, certainly unvanquished. As we remember those who were routinely and systemically annihilated during the Holocaust, we also remember the justice we all deserve as human beings and the importance of speaking out and calling out those who would deny such a basic universal right.

Let us not hesitate to contribute to the culture of healing that we so desperately need in this unsettling moment. Tyre Nichols deserved better. His family deserved better. His community deserved better. We deserved better.

Finally, we remind you of the support offered to students by Counseling and Psychological Services at (707)-664-2153 or by emailing For faculty and staff, support is available through our Employee Assistance Program, LifeMatters by Empathia.