The Barry University community stands with Tyre Nichol’s family, friends, and community, as well as the family of Irvo Otieno, and all Black men, women, mothers, children, communities, and people impacted directly or indirectly by violence perpetuated by those sworn to serve and protect. While some will say the Memphis police chief’s swift action is a step in the process of seeking justice, in the wise words of Yamiche Alcindor, “the real justice for Tyre Nichols and his family would be living to see his four-year-old child grow up.” We have yet to see the outcome of the sheriff deputies and mental health employees who pinned Irvo Otieno to the floor at a Virginia psychiatric facility until he died. We do know, at the time of this writing, ten people (seven officers and three employees) have been indicted and charged with second-degree murder.
Given the fact that most killings at the hands of police go uncharged and police agencies are often not forthcoming with the details of these incidents, the question also arises of what might have been different if, in Tyre Nichols’ case, if the police officers were white? The deputies and employees in Otieno’s case were both Black and White. The videos in both instances are very graphic and disturbing to watch.
While many want to stay informed about the news of these cases, it is important to note that retraumatization can occur, especially when faced with images and audio of the killing. Research shows viewing videos of traumatic events in the media can have long-lasting impacts on mental health, such as an increase in anxiety and symptoms of depression. Read more
For those already feeling overwhelmed by the news of this tragedy, it is recommended to read rather than watch the news, take time for rest and self-care, and to seek support with family, friends, and loving community. Resources are listed below for additional support. It has also been recommended to turn off “video auto-play” on your phone settings if you do not want to watch the body camera footage and to not share the video with others. For more information, please visit the NPR news link above. Know that the Nichols’ family has been sharing positive memories and stories about Tyre. In fact, you may have seen an original photograph he took or a video of him skateboarding. This is how his family would like him to be remembered. Irvo Otieno’s mother holds up a large picture of Irvo in a suit and a broad smile. If you post on social media about either of these tragedies, and/or other like tragedies, consider sharing positive memories instead of the videos of their deaths. This can also be a step in ending the cycle of desensitization to violence in our culture. You could also post ideas for getting involved in the prevention and reduction of police violence and the decriminalization of mental illness. Become a messenger for peace and an advocate for justice. Gather information about local vigils and protests, call political leaders, and donate your time and/or money to mutual aid groups and activist organizations. This could make you and others feel less helpless and more hopeful, too.
There are no words that can heal and no statement that can effectively capture the rage and grief of witnessing, yet another young Black person murdered at the hands of police. According to the Mapping Police Violence database, police officers killed 1,123 Americans in 2022. Black people were 2.9 time more likely to be killed by police than white people. For those of you all too familiar with the reality of violent and negligent policing and its detrimental effects, we see you, we hear you, and we stand with you. We also know this is not enough. It will never be enough until ALL people, no matter their skin color, gender identity, mental disposition, or any other identity, feel safe in the presence of law enforcement officers. This is not the time to be a bystander and know it is never too late to take action collectively or individually. The conversation has started, we need to continue this conversation, continue the phone calls, continue the necessary action until we witness real change. Join the voices of those who are calling for changes such as
- Eliminating language in police union contracts that limit officer accountability or revising the language providing for greater accountability.
- Creating a national database for tracking excessive force complaints and officers who were fired or suspended for misconduct.
- Increasing the funding of crisis intervention teams, de-escalation for law enforcement officers, as well as the utilization of non-police organizations to respond to emergency calls.
- Demilitarizing all law enforcement agencies and invest and train in community policing methods, like those finding success in Camden, NJ.
- Institutionalizing restrictive laws governing use of force, such as a national ban on chokeholds Please contact your state and federal representatives and ask that they propose and support legislation to prevent and reduce police violence and killing, such as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that was proposed in 2021 but did not pass through the Senate. ACLU also has a manual on fighting police abuses: https://www.aclu.org/other/fighting-police-abuse-community-action-manual
Get involved...follow this link and begin to help make a difference
Email your congressional representative https://www.congress.gov/contact-us
Equal Justice Initiative: https://eji.org/issues/qualified-immunity/
NAACP Legal Defense Fund: https://www.naacpldf.org/qi-police-misconduct/
- Barry Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (for BU students)
- 988 Crisis Line
Black Mental Health Resources
Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM)
Group aimed at removing the barriers that Black people experience getting access to or staying connected with emotional health care and healing through education, training, advocacy and the creative arts.
Black Men Heal
Limited and selective free mental health service opportunities for Black men.
Black Mental Health Alliance — (410) 338-2642
Provides information, resources and a “Find a Therapist” locator to connect with a culturally competent mental health professional.
Black Mental Wellness
Provides access to evidence-based information and resources about mental health and behavioral health topics from a Black perspective, as well as training opportunities for students and professionals.
Black Women’s Health Imperative
Organization advancing health equity and social justice for Black women through policy, advocacy, education, research and leadership development.
Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation
BLHF has launched the COVID-19 Free Virtual Therapy Support Campaign to raise money for mental health services provided by licensed clinicians in our network. Individuals with life-changing stressors and anxiety related to the coronavirus will have the cost for up to five (5) individual sessions defrayed on a first come, first serve basis until all funds are committed or exhausted.
Brother You’re on My Mind
An initiative launched by Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and NIMHD to raise awareness of the mental health challenges associated with depression and stress that affect Black men and families. Website offers an online toolkit that provides Omega Psi Phi Fraternity chapters with the materials needed to educate fellow fraternity brothers and community members on depression and stress in Black men.
Ebony's Mental Health Resources by State
List of Black-owned and focused mental health resources by state as compiled by Ebony magazine.
Melanin and Mental Health
Connects individuals with culturally competent clinicians committed to serving the mental health needs of Black & Latinx/Hispanic communities. Promotes the growth and healing of diverse communities through its website, online directory and events.
Online community for Black women to seek support.
Provides information on promoting mental health and developing positive coping mechanisms through a podcast, online magazine and online discussion groups.
Organization that provides mental wellness education, resource connection and community support for Black women.
Therapy for Black Girls
Online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of Black women and girls. Offers listing of mental health professionals across the country who provide high quality, culturally competent services to Black women and girls, an informational podcast and an online support community.
The SIWE Project
Non-profit dedicated to promoting mental health awareness throughout the global Black community.
The Steve Fund
Organization focused on supporting the mental health and emotional well-being of young people of color.
Self-Care For People Of Color
- Association of Black Psychologists Directory
- Inclusive Therapists
- LGBTQ Psychotherapists of Color Directory
- National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network
- Psychology Today Directory of African American Therapists
- Therapy for Black Men
Drs. Lauren Shure, ADSOE-LAHD Counseling Program and Louis Rosen, Assistant Dean Faculty Development, Compliance, and Diversity. Andreas School of Law.