CLEVELAND — As the Memphis community mourned the loss of Tyre Nichols on Wednesday, grief was also felt in Northeast Ohio.
Nichols' death at the hands of Memphis police officers was captured on body camera footage, and has drawn national attention. "My hat does go off to the folks running the police department out there that immediately fired the police who were involved on the city level. But there are some county level officials too that still need to be held to account," said Kayla Griffin, president of the Cleveland branch of the NAACP.
Griffin says she took time to grieve, and adds there is community trauma created by the "killing of Black and brown bodies on bodycam."
"I want us to take a moment to actually have time to grieve and process that, but know that we have so much work to do," Griffin told 3News. "It's more than just demonstrations; we really need to call our elected officials and the people that are running our cities to account, to make sure this stops happening."
Griffin believes part of that is pushing for officials to pass laws and manage police departments in ways that promote safety.
"Every person who is holding a badge, every person that is issued out there to protect and serve us, they need to understand and know that they answer to the community and the community has demands, and we want to make sure that we are protected," she said. "Not just from the things that are happening in our own environment, but from the police as well."
Griffin encourages anyone experiencing grief to reach out for help and find resources. She suggested calling United Way at 211 to be connected to a resource.
"Even though we are miles away, so many people in the Black community know what it is like to fear for our brothers and our nephews and our sons when they're going out in the community," Griffin explained. "So we do take a moment and acknowledge that, but we know we need to continue on this journey."
As a mother of two boys, aged 9 and 13, the body camera footage of Nichols weighed heavily on the heart of Delores Gray, president of The Carl Stokes Brigade.
"I was up all night, to be quite honest, and I think about my two boys I have," Gray said. "To hear this man call out his mama just makes me think of my own situation. I could not just sit there and not do anything."
Gray called on the community to come together Wednesday night at 6:30 at the headquarters of Black On Black Crime Inc. to have a conversation surrounding Nichols' death as well as issues in Cleveland, and provide a space for people. The address is 15415 Kipling Avenue in Cleveland.
"All the activists that are involved are asking to stand together in solidarity of this family that's going through this, as well as any other family that has gone through this," Gray noted. "We need to stick together and stand up."
She also encouraged anyone who needs help or support in processing Nichols' death to reach out for support.
"Get some help, talk to people, get involved, make a stand," she said. "I think doing all of those things will help you to understand what's going on."