Friday, January 27, 2023

President Biden is monitoring the situation in Memphis, Tennessee, as the city braces for the release of the video showing Tyre Nichols’ Jan. 7 encounter with police that preceded his death, the White House said Friday.

Speaking with reporters before he departed for Camp David, Mr. Biden said “the image of America” is at stake with how the nation reacts to the video. But the president added that he was “obviously very concerned” about the potential for violence.

The president said he was “pleased” that Nichols‘ mom called for peaceful protests amid the video’s release.  

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration officials are coordinating with state and local officials to ensure they are prepared in the event the video sparks violent protests.

“This coordination is standard practice and in keeping with what the administration has done in other instances,” she said citing the release of the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade over the summer and the trucker convoy in protest of COVID-19 policies last spring.

“I just want to reiterate what the family with the family and the president have called for which is peaceful protests,” she said. “That is something that the president will continue to call on.”

Mr. Biden spoke with Tyre Nichols‘ mother and stepfather on Friday and offered his condolences. The president also commended the family for their courage and strength during the conversation, the White House said.

“I told her that I have some idea of what that loss is like,” Mr. Biden said.

The president’s young daughter was killed in a car accident in 1972. His son, Beau Biden, died of cancer in 2015.

Memphis officials plan to release video footage of the arrest on Friday evening.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said he was “appalled” after viewing the video footage earlier Friday.

“What happened in Memphis is, obviously, tragic,” Mr. Wray said. “I have seen the video myself. And I will tell you, I was appalled. I’m struggling to find a stronger word, but I will just tell you, I was appalled.”

Mr. Biden had not viewed the video, Ms. Jean-Pierre said.

Five Memphis police officers have been charged with second-degree murder and other crimes in connection with Nichols‘ death.

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