Your Monday Briefing: The Fallout from a Police Beating

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The release of a video on Friday showing five officers with the Memphis Police Department pummeling and pepper-spraying Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, prompted horror and disgust from law enforcement officials, lawmakers and other people across the U.S.

The officers, according to the video, escalated their use of physical force and gave conflicting orders. It does not appear that Nichols fought back during the beating. At one point, he yelled out for his mother. Once medics were on the scene, they stood by for more than 16 minutes without administering treatment.

Nichols had been stopped for what the police originally said was reckless driving. He died three days later, and an independent autopsy found that he “suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating.”

The City of Memphis released the video a day after the officers were charged with second-degree murder and other felonies. The five officers are all Black, a fact that has shifted the national conversation toward police culture itself. Many argue that the police system and its tactics foster racism and violence more than the racial identity of any particular officer does.

Response: The country has grappled repeatedly with high-profile cases of Black men and women being killed by police officers. The relatively swift release of the footage reflects a national shift about how police investigate and talk about those cases.

Fallout: On Saturday, the Memphis Police Department announced that it had disbanded the controversial unit in which the five officers had worked.

Tyre Nichols: A skateboarder and nonconformist, Nichols cut his own path from California to Tennessee.

A series of raids and attacks since Thursday in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Jerusalem have left more than 20 people dead. Yesterday, an 18-year-old Palestinian man was fatally shot outside an Israeli settlement.

Israel’s new far-right government has been in power for only a month. But on its watch, Israelis and Palestinians have already experienced one of the most violent phases, outside a full-scale war, in years.

Nine Palestinians were shot dead on Thursday morning, in the deadliest Israeli raid in at least a half-decade. Yesterday, a tenth person died. On Friday, a Palestinian gunman killed seven people outside a synagogue in Jerusalem, the deadliest attack on civilians in the city since 2008. On Saturday, an attacker who the police said was 13 years old shot and injured two Israelis near a settlement in East Jerusalem.

In response, Israel’s government on Saturday said it planned to expedite gun licenses for Israeli citizens, reinforce military and police units to carry out more arrests of Palestinians and conduct operations aimed at seizing Palestinians’ weapons.

What’s next: Analysts fear that Israeli policies are likely to inflame an already volatile situation, our Jerusalem bureau chief, Patrick Kingsley, reports. Rising frustration and violence among young Palestinians are also contributing to a combustible situation.

Authorities in Western Australia are searching for a dangerously radioactive capsule. It’s smaller than a penny and could be anywhere along a vast desert highway.

The device, part of a sensor used in mining, is believed to have fallen off a truck that drove from a Rio Tinto mine in Western Australia’s remote north to Perth, the state capital. The 870-mile trip (1,400 kilometers) took several days. 

The search involves the use of radiation detectors. “What we are not doing is trying to find a tiny little device by eyesight,” an official said.

If you spot it: Stay at least five meters away. The capsule contains cesium-137. An hour of exposure at about a meter away equals having had 10 X-rays. Prolonged contact can cause skin burns, acute radiation sickness and cancer.

The Associated Press caused a brouhaha when it offered a style tip: “We recommend avoiding general and often dehumanizing ‘the’ labels such as the poor, the mentally ill, the French, the disabled.” 

That didn’t sit well with the French. (What else would we call them, “people of Frenchness”?) “In fact, the French rather like being stereotyped as the French,” our Paris bureau chief writes. “They undergo Frenchness with considerable relish.”

One day we’ll look back on the early 2020s and wonder: What were we thinking? The Times asked more than 30 people from academia, the media, the arts and beyond to weigh in on what they think will one day make us cringe.

Their responses include: the monarchy, plastic bottles, selfies and gender-reveal parties. Also, the pandemic and our responses to it, and using the word “journey” to describe anything other than a perilous trek.

Kevin Kelly, the co-founder of Wired magazine, gave my favorite answer, which includes: “Eating dead animals. Not being able to have two spouses at once. Fearing human clones. (They are serial twins.) Wrapping food in plastic. Thinking you needed permission to visit another country.”


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