Black skateboarders mourn Tyre Nichols as one of their own

USA News

In one Memphis park, Quintin “Rico” Fields saw it often: Skaters donning headphones and pushing off on a board, losing themselves in the rhythm of long glides and quick jumps.

“You’re leaving the world behind … You’re just getting away from stuff,” said Fields, who has long found a community among the bowls and rails of Memphis skateboarders. 

Tyre Nichols, 29, was a member of that community too. Friends said he was a “free spirit” who reveled in a sport often intertwined with music and art.

That ended when Nichols died Jan. 10 after what police first called “a confrontation” following a traffic stop. This week, local prosecutors charged five Memphis officers with second-degree murder and other crimes in connection with his death. 

This photo provided by the Nichols family shows Tyre Nichols, who had a passion for photography and was described by friends as joyful and lovable. Nichols was just minutes from his home in Memphis, Tenn., on Jan. 7, 2023, when he was pulled over by police and fatally beaten. Five Memphis police officers have since been charged with second-degree murder and other offenses. (Courtesy of the Nichols family via AP)

In recent days, skateboarding communities in Memphis and beyond have held tributes and expressed solidarity with Nichols and his family — including many celebrating the joy that skating brought to his life, even amid his tragic death. 

Latosha Stone, widely recognized as the first Black woman to own a skateboard company when she founded Proper Gnar in 2012, said it was heartening to see videos of Nichols’ love of the sport in the midst of Friday’s release of police video.

“It was just nice to see something positive instead of negative and to be able to remember him in a good light,” said Stone, 35, of Greenville, Ohio.

A video of Nichols skating was recently reposted on social media by his family’s lawyer, civil rights attorney Ben Crump. That drew further attention to Nichols U.S. skateboarding figures and communities.

Jordan Thrower, 30, a Black skateboard business owner from San Diego, learned of Tyre before the incident because someone recently had posted on Instagram videos of Tyre skateboarding.

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