MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Demonstrators gathered in Downtown Memphis Saturday afternoon to grieve the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, meet with mental health counselors and demand police reform in Memphis as well as across the country.
Led by activists DeVante Hill and Michael Sykes, protesters marched from I Am A Man Plaza to Handy Park.
"We need to give people an opportunity and a space to express themselves — to share that rage, that frustration," Hill said. "We need to create an outlet for our community."
Danielle Rhodes, an Alliance Crisis and Assessment Centers program manager, said healing can begin with a conversation.
“Someone said, 'This hurts. What am I supposed to do?' I said, 'Let's talk about it. Tell me exactly all of your feelings, and I want to hear them candidly,'" she said, referencing one of her interactions with a protester that afternoon.
Hill said he is also demanding candid conversations and transparency from city and county officials.
"We are wondering and we are asking our mayoral candidate and our current sheriff: Why was he just now seeing the video? And why is he just now launching an investigation into Shelby County Sheriff's Department?" he said.
Protesters acknowledged it will take time to work through the trauma of watching Nichols' interaction with Memphis police officers on Jan. 7.
It was difficult for Kira Jackson, a mother of a young boy, to hold back tears as she recalled watching the footage recently released by the City of Memphis.
"I think it's just because I am going to be raising a son, and [Tyre Nichols] reminds me of my brother," she said. "I was just looking at the video and looking at his face on that body cam, and if that had happened to my brother. This is why I just feel so bad."
Rhodes emphasized it's normal to be feeling many emotions right now.
"Talking to your family — your loved ones about what happened, candidly being straight about it and then creating a healing process around it by saying 'it's okay to feel that.' It's not a problem that you feel that way. It's not a problem that you're angry."
ABC24 reached out to the Shelby County Sheriff's Office for comment. We have not heard back.