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February 01, 2023
What A Day
Remembering Tyre Nichols

In This Episode

  • Tyre Nichols was remembered at a funeral service in Memphis, Tennessee on Wednesday. His family spoke about their grief in the company of political figures from around the country — including civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton, who gave the eulogy, and Vice President Kamala Harris.
  • And in headlines: the College Board unveiled the official curriculum of its AP African American studies course, the Fed said it will raise interest rates by a quarter of a percent, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady said he’s retiring again.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, February 2nd. I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver. And this is What A Day. On today’s show, the College Board unveiled a stripped down version of its AP African American Studies course. Plus the chair of the Federal Reserve said it’s premature to declare victory over inflation. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: But first, Tyre Nichols was remembered yesterday at a funeral service in Memphis, Tennessee. This came more than three weeks after he was beaten during a traffic stop by Memphis police. And five days after the city released videos of his brutal assault by the officers. Nichols’ death led to second degree murder charges against five police officers who were also fired, as well as the termination of three fire department employees and disciplinary action against two additional Memphis cops who were at the scene. Since the video was released last weekend. The Memphis Police Department’s Scorpion unit, whose members included the five officers who were charged, was permanently disbanded. Yesterday, Tyre’s family and friends gathered alongside national figures to remember him with tributes and songs as well as calls for change. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: What was heartbreaking but very authentic about this entire funeral was that it was about how his family wanted him to be remembered. It was about celebrating his life. And I thought that was beautiful. But again, heartbreaking. So can you talk through a little bit about how his friends and family want him to be remembered? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So according to his loved ones, Tyre Nichols was a free spirit who loved his four year old son and his mother. He liked to skateboard. He would go to Shelby Farms Park on Saturday mornings to skate or in the evenings just to snap pictures of the sunset. He loved watching the sunset. In videos that have been shared on social media. You can see him on his skateboard, smiling, practicing tricks. By all accounts, he was just a lovely young person who was enjoying his life and really trying to make the most of it. His family was understandably very emotional about his life being cut short. Here is a clip of his sister, Keyana Dixon, speaking during the service. 

 

[clip of Keyana Dixon] I see the world showing him love and fighting for his justice, but all I want is my baby brother back. And even in his demise, he was still polite. He asked them to please stop. He was still the polite young man he always was. He asked them to please stop. And they didn’t. And that’s why my family will never be the same. And I will just always love my baby brother forever. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That is heartbreaking and so hard to listen to. But I think very important for everyone to hear. Nichols’s mother and stepfather also spoke about their grief and reiterated calls for justice. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: You briefly mentioned earlier that there was a large audience there beyond Nichols’s family and friends. Can you tell us who else was in the room? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So a lot of political figures from around the country were in attendance, including civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton, who gave the eulogy, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris, who also spoke. Both of their impassioned speeches called for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Also in attendance were the families of George Floyd, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, and Botham Jean, all of whom were Black people killed by police. Their families came to support Tyre Nichols’ family, in enduring a tragedy that they have come to know too well. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And just remembering how it felt as Reverend Al Sharpton and Benjamin Crump, the lawyer representing Nichols’ family, called out their names, called out the other families who’ve lost loved ones to police brutality and police violence. It was heartbreaking and incredibly sad. And as you just mentioned, that list included Tamika Palmer, whose daughter, Breonna Taylor, shared a birth date with Tyre Nichols. And seeing them on stage together was a stark reminder of the fact that inaction is only going to lead to more of this violence and more of this death at the hands of police. And Tyre’s stepfather Rodney Wells said as much. As for the politicos in the audience after Reverend Sharpton acknowledged Vice President Harris from the pulpit, he invited the VP to say a few words, which seemed a little bit like an impromptu moment. Take a listen to what the vice president shared with the congregation. 

 

[clip of Vice President Kamala Harris] This violent act was not in pursuit of public safety. 

 

[clip of audience attending Tyre Nichols funeral] That’s right. 

 

[clip of Vice President Kamala Harris] It was not in the interest of keeping the public safe because one must ask, was not it in the interest of keeping the public safe that Tyre Nichols would be with us here today? [applause] Was he not also entitled to the right to be safe? So when we talk about public safety, let us understand what it means in its truest form. Tyre Nichols should have been safe. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: When I tell you, the sadness was palpable throughout the service for Tyre, and the vice president was tapping into what we all know is the truth, that Tyre should have been safe and he should have made it home that night. In her remarks, Vice President Harris also called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, as many others did throughout the service, including Tyre’s family. Reverend Al Sharpton also announced that Representative Sheila Jackson Lee is set to re-introduce the legislation in the House following President Biden’s State of the Union address next week and considering how the bill had been diluted throughout negotiations. There were mixed reactions to the repeated calls to pass the legislation. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I want to dig into that. But before we do, can you remind our listeners what happened to the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act during the last Congress? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Well, in March 2021, the House passed the bill along party lines only for the Senate negotiations to hit a stalemate when GOP Senator Tim Scott and police unions organized against the bill because it included key language about ending qualified immunity, which protects law enforcement officers from most civil lawsuits, as well as language making it easier to prosecute officers accused of misconduct. Also, like most legislation, Senate Democrats needed ten Republicans to support the bill in order to get around the filibuster, that good old filibuster. And that was not happening in the last Congress. Also, when you add to that the fact that many activists were rightfully frustrated by the fact that the bill would give police forces more money and more resources for training programs which are clearly ineffective in stopping police from brutalizing and killing Black and Brown people. I think that frustration’s warranted, especially when police killings are on the rise. According to the Police violence report, 1192 people were killed by police in 2022. That’s more than any other year in the past decade. Honestly, all we want, all Black and Brown people want is not to be killed by police. It’s that simple. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it’s utter insanity that that number is on the rise. Given everything we know, everything that’s happened in the last few years, that is not how that should look at all. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Going back to this bill, what do you think is the likely outcome here? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I mean, it doesn’t look good, right, in this current Congress, as the bill is about to be reintroduced later this month, the key negotiators, Senator Cory Booker and Senator Tim Scott, are already at odds over who is to blame for negotiations stalling in the last round. And we have a GOP controlled House that is hell bent against doing anything to combat this brutality from police. I mean, Representative Jim Jordan made that abundantly clear when he went on Meet the Press this past Sunday and said that he didn’t think that any law would change what we saw in that body camera footage. So let’s just say it’s pretty fucking bleak right now. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. If you are a lawmaker, a person in power who is tasked with making the rules and you say, well, the rules uh actually wouldn’t work, like– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: How are we supposed to trust you with anything? I’m sorry. That is an unacceptable answer. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Completely unacceptable. But it rings true to what we know Republicans came to do in this Congress. Absolutely nothing for people in need. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And so he’s sticking with that. But we know Democrats are pushing back against that. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are set to meet with President Biden today to continue to push for national reform, and we’ll definitely be following that closely as well. [music break]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s get to some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: The Justice Department searched President Biden’s Delaware vacation home on Wednesday for any more classified documents that he may have held onto. But at least according to Biden’s lawyers, they didn’t find any. The only materials authorities seized from the property were some handwritten notes and other items from Biden’s tenure as vice president, which they plan to review. This comes after the Justice Department recovered a small number of classified documents at Biden’s home in Wilmington nearly three weeks ago. The only other place where Biden may have stored classified materials is the University of Delaware, his alma mater, where he donated a ton of documents from his time in the Senate back in 2012. However, a spokesperson told The Washington Post on January 11th that the university had not yet been asked to go through them. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: House Republicans plan to hold a floor vote today on a resolution that would remove Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee. The resolution cites Omar’s past criticisms of Israel and pro-Israel lobbying groups claiming she is unfit to serve on the panel because of her, quote, “biases against Israel and against the Jewish people.” The move is likely intended as payback against Democrats who booted far right Republicans like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar from their committee assignments last year after they posted violent videos and violent rhetoric on social media. They were quickly put back on committee rosters when Republicans took control of the chamber earlier this month. Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Majority Leader Steve Scalise said on Wednesday that they were confident that they had enough votes to pass the resolution. Meanwhile, Democrats are trying to rally some Republicans to support her. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it’s very upsetting to me that people might read this headline, might see this news and think that there is an iota of truth to this. If Ilhan Omar had done anything remotely close to what Marjorie Taylor Greene or Paul Gosar did, Democrats would be calling for the same thing, it is– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –absolutely not true. It’s crazy. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Only one party in Congress actively perpetuated violence and acted on it with the help from a former president. So there’s that. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: The College Board unveiled the official curriculum of its AP African-American studies course yesterday. This comes days after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that he would ban the course from being taught in his state because the initial framework included topics like critical race theory. And apparently that is part of his job now. Who knew? The board said it would not be intimidated by DeSantis’s remarks when finalizing the course. But the cuts made to the program say otherwise. While it still touches on topics like the history of Africa, slavery in the United States and the civil rights movement as outlined in the initial draft. Sections on contemporary issues like Black Lives Matter, mass incarceration, and reparations were thrown out. Kind of seem like a big deal. I don’t know. The contributions of Black writers and scholars associated with critical race theory, Black feminism and queerness were also edited out of the curriculum. The one thing they added to the course, the topic of Black conservatism, is now offered as an option for research projects. Hmm.

 

Juanita Tolliver: I mean, nothing like bending to the will of a white supremacist on the first day of Black History Month. But alas. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: We hate to see it. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: The drama over dwindling water resources from the Colorado River continues, this time with a clapback from California. We told you yesterday that states that rely on the river for water missed a crucial deadline this week. They were supposed to show the federal government how they plan to collectively conserve water or face sweeping mandatory cuts by 2026. Six western states submitted their own proposal, but California did not sign on because it would essentially force California to make the steepest cuts. Late Tuesday, the Golden State struck back with its own proposal, offering some cuts on its part but threw serious shade on states like Arizona to do more to conserve. And speaking of shade, California’s plan also outlined how it could save water by simply not letting so much of it evaporate as it’s being diverted and stored. California pulls the most water from the Colorado River than any other state and has the oldest legal claim to those rights. But experts say all seven states need to come to an agreement now because the river is the driest it’s been in 1200 years. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Amid reports of inflation very slowly beginning to ease, the Fed announced on Wednesday that it will increase interest rates by a quarter of a percent, a narrower increment compared to the seven times the central bank raised interest rates in 2022. So far, the aggressive rate hikes seem to have helped cool off inflation, though Fed Chair Jerome Powell cautioned that we are not out of the woods just yet. He signaled that there would be at least two more increases this year with the ultimate goal of bringing inflation down to 2%. Separately, Powell refused to speculate on what the Fed may do if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling before June, saying, quote, “There is only one way forward here, and that is for Congress to raise the debt ceiling. Any deviations from that path would be highly risky.” 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Once more, the quarterback has doubled back. I guess that’s a football term. [laugh] On the one year anniversary of the first time he retired from the NFL. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady has retired yet again, announcing in a video posted on Instagram that he would not be returning to the league next season. Tom Brady’s unretirement, which began 40 days after his first announcement, marked the beginning of a series of flops for Brady from the end of his marriage. His multimillion dollar investment in crypto scam FTX. And ultimately his losing season with the Buccs. On the bright side, his ex-wife, Gisele Bündchen, did comment on his Instagram post saying, quote, “Wishing you only wonderful things in this new chapter of your life.” Oh, my God. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Oof. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Turn the dagger deeper. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Ooof. [laugh]

 

Juanita Tolliver: Geez. We look forward to his next gig sitting in the back of the movie theater at New England screenings of 80 for Brady, whatever that is. [laugh] Just trying to feel something. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. [laughter[

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I hope he comes to several theaters. I mean, clearly, they’re his fans. I don’t think there’s ever been a flop era quite as um grand as this. What a fall from grace. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: It only took 365 days for this man to ruin his entire life. So. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I know. And in such a– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: There you go. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –grand fashion, it really is wild. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I mean. There’s clearly no love lost for me. [laughing]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And those are the headlines we’ll be back after some ads to check our temps. [music break] 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday WAD squad. And for today’s temp check we are talking about Queen Bey returning to the stage, after the dates were announced literally yesterday, pre-Sale begins today for Beyonce’s Renaissance World tour. The 41 day tour will kick off by taking her titular Grammy nominated 2022 album internationally from Stockholm to Barcelona. She is the queen after all, so she is due for some diplomacy. In July, Bey is coming stateside, performing stadium shows throughout major U.S. cities through September. For context, the last time Beyoncé headlined a solo tour was almost seven years ago with the Formation World tour. With Taylor Swift’s Ticketmaster disaster still in the rearview mirror. Juanita, will you be braving the online queue for these tickets? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: You bet your ass I will be. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. I why did I even ask? [laughter] 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Like what I do think is promising is that Ticketmaster has set up three different presale dates for three different sets of cities domestically. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That’s true. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: So that makes me feel a little better about them not crashing a website or all the tickets disappearing and disintegrating into nothingness in 10 seconds flat. I like my chances here, you know, I’m coordinating with my friends we’re– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I know! 

 

Juanita Tolliver: –tag teaming this. Whoever gets in first gets the tickets. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I like your plan. You sound like you have come up with some really exciting options, so I’m frankly, quite jealous. But, I mean, if Ticketmaster bungles this, I think they can’t. I think they really would have had to say Beyonce, we can’t sell these tickets. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Let’s be real. If they thought they got heat from Taylor Swift’s fans. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, my God. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Let me tell you the Beehive will ruin this company. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Oh totally. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Like we will take Ticketmaster the fuck down. Taylor Swift fans were one thing. Beehive is next level. Ticketmaster, do not fuck this up. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I feel like the fact that they are even opening this means that they have to be confident that it’s going to work. Because if they aren’t, why would they put themselves in this position again? So I’m choosing to believe that they are prepared. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Glass half full. We can learn from mistakes. We can improve. Ticketmaster, that means you. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Glass half full or glass of water in my face. We will find out [laughter] tomorrow. Just like that. We have checked our temps, you know. A little lukewarm, not about Beyonce, just about Ticketmaster, you know. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I feel good. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I’m feeling alright. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I feel okay. [music break]. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Fight off inflation with your bare hands and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just your position in the Renaissance world tour ticket queue like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver.

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I am Priyanka Aribindi.

 

[spoken together] And Happy Groundhog Day. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I think I don’t really know if it’s a happy occasion. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: As happy as you can be. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: We’ll see. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Let’s see what the weather prediction is and we can go from there. I fear more winter is coming for the East Coast, but– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –Exactly. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: –Alas. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Exactly why I’m not ready to say happy anything quite yet. [laughter] [music break]

 

Juanita Tolliver: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jocey Coffman, and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.