Rochester NAACP holds vigil to honor Tyre Nichols

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(ABC 6 News) – It’s been nearly a month since five Memphis police officers severely beat 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, with him succumbing to his injuries. Sunday night, the Rochester branch of the NAACP honored his life with a vigil at the Rochester Civic Theatre.

People across the nation are continuing to mourn the brutal death of Tyre Nichols, sparking yet another wave of communities calling for systemic change including in Rochester.

“A traffic stop should not be a death sentence,” said Walé Elegbede, the President of the Rochester branch of the NAACP. “My vision is a society where you know diversity, equity, inclusion is fully embraced by all and that’s sort of how we make our society and how we make Rochester a thriving place for everybody.”

One by one, names were read and remembered with a bell ring. Repeating this powerful message after each name: “We are done dying”.

“We say that we’re done dying, It’s an affirmation and it’s exhaustion that look we’re really done dying,” Elegbede said.

The vigil brought many to tears, with mothers holding their sons close.

“This is not a new episode this is real life. That the community is really suffering every single time we lose a black boy,” said Tawonda Burks, one of many that came to the vigil.

Burks is a mom to five children. She says she’s terrified her son, and her family could also be a victim.

“This can very well be my son someday. You know his last words can be mom too. My nephews last words can be mom,” she said.

Many others agreeing these tragedies hit close to home.

“Even if you don’t know him, you feel like he was your boy, he was your son, he was a cousin, he was a nephew,” Burks explained.

And they say change starts with everyone.

“Everybody needs to lean in, we can’t say this is not my business. Sometimes that’s what we say, it happened somewhere else it’s not my business. But it is our business,” Elegbede said.

Those in attendance at the vigil say listening and praying aren’t enough anymore. That the community needs to take action and get involved to create real change in our society.

“He was steps away from his mother’s house. That’s real. And it’s not the first time it happened and sadly, the way things are going, it doesn’t seem like it’s gonna be the last,” Burks added.

For more information on the NAACP, click here.