CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Dozens of people marched through Uptown Charlotte Saturday in response to the death of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who died after being beaten by members of the Memphis Police Department.
Five police officers, all Black, are charged with second-degree murder for the actions surrounding Nichols' death.
On Friday, Memphis officials released the body camera video showing images of Nichols being beaten by the police.
The video has sparked outrage across the nation, raising questions about policing in the country.
In Charlotte, dozens of people attended a protest organized by the NAACP Charlotte-Mecklenburg County branch, denouncing the Memphis Police officer's actions.
Protestors were seen marching through uptown Charlotte, displaying signs and chanting, calling on justice to be served for Nichols and other cases involving police brutality.
NAACP Charlotte-Mecklenburg President Rev. Corine Mack says the Memphis video shows there's a huge problem with policing in our country.
"I was angry and disgusted," Mack said. "We're talking about Black men who beat Nichols as if he was not a human being, as if he was a punching bag. I am disgusted that any human being [thinks] it's OK to treat another human being that way, especially one who took an oath to protect and serve."
She says the protest is about uplifting Nichols' family, while calling on more to be done to prevent this from happening to anyone again.
"We can no longer accept this system," Mack said. "It needs a more humane foundation. It doesn't [have that] right now. We've had killings here in Charlotte where officers were not held accountable. I go back to the Jonathan Ferrell case in 2013. We were hoping [for an outcome] we didn't get."
In 2013, Charlotte authorities confirmed Jonathan Ferrell died after being shot multiple times by then-CMPD Officer Randall Kerrick.
Ferrell was unarmed and wrecked his car in a neighborhood on Reedy Creek Road prior to the shooting.
Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter following Ferrell's death. Kerrick's trial was later declared a mistrial.
Spectrum News 1 talked with many protestors who said officer-involved shootings in Charlotte and other regions resulted in them losing trust in the police. After seeing a Black man being beaten by officers, some residents say it makes it even harder to mend that trust.
Kimberly Williams, a native of Charlotte, is one of many protestors who denounced the images seen on the Memphis Police body camera video.
"It was heartbreaking, it was devastating, it was redundant," Williams said. "This reminded me of Freddie Gray, this reminded me of Eric Garner, this reminded me of George Floyd."
Williams says she's sick and tired of seeing images of Black people dying after an interaction with police. She says those concerns were only heightened after seeing Nichols being beaten by officers.
"I believe it solidifies distrust that has been there for generations," Williams said.
Spectrum News 1 brought Williams and other protestors concerns about policing to Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings. The chief and several members of his department attended the NAACP Charlotte protest event.
Jennings says he came out to ensure people know he condemns what he saw on the Memphis Police body camera video.
"When that first strike on Tyre was taken, they stopped becoming police officers and they started becoming criminals," Jennings said. "It's certainly something that's hard to watch. We absolutely condemn what we saw on the video with the death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis. We have taken a very huge blow, not just in the law enforcement community and the black and brown community, but as a society as a whole. I think it's important we show we don't condone what we saw."
Jennings says his department has worked hard to improve relations with the residents they serve.
"Our department has been really big on the customer service aspect of how we treat each other and how we treat those we come in contact with outside of our department," Jennings said. "It couldn't be more important right now. We have to be able to show what our mission is and why we're out in the communities in the first place. It's not to get people and pull them out of cars and beat them and do anything close to what you saw in that Memphis video. We have to give a feeling of making sure people are safe and secure, even when they're in contact with us."
He says incidents like what happened in Memphis sets those efforts back.
"It doesn't lay lightly on any law enforcement across the country who had to watch and realize that the hard work we've been doing over several years can be wiped away and we have to start from ground zero again," Jennings said. "It's frustrating on our part. It becomes harder and harder to talk about these things, and try to tell people our profession is honorable and noble and we still do so many great things in the community and keep our community safe. But when you see something like this, even though it didn't happen in Charlotte, it still affects us and our community and our profession. It's going to take time. Reform does not happen over night. I commend Memphis Police Chief Davis for taking swift action in terminating the officers, at the same time the district attorney taking swift action in prosecuting and bring forth charges against those officers. That's a good step. When we step outside the boundaries of the law, we need to be held accountable just as anyone else who does the same thing."
Jennings says his department will continue to build trust with the citizens they serve.
"I don't know if we will ever be able to relax and get there but the effort has to be there day in and day out," Jennings said. "As I watched that video, I felt every single blow. We're talking about a human being and [for] someone to be treated in that fashion and totally disregarded and shoved to the side like trash- it was hard to watch. I feel like we as a profession across the country still have a lot of work to do."
For residents like Williams, they're demanding something changes so what happened to Nichols and other cases of police brutality never happen again-anywhere.
"For the victims, there is no carbon-copy," Williams said. "This could happen to anyone."