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Tyre Nichols to be laid to rest; Al Sharpton to deliver eulogy

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (NewsNation) — Tyre Nichols will be laid to rest Wednesday, three weeks after he died following a deadly beating by Memphis police officers during a traffic stop.

Nichols, a Black 29-year-old skateboarder and amateur photographer, worked making boxes at FedEx, made friends during morning visits to Starbucks and always greeted his mother and stepfather when he returned home with a sunny, “Hello, parents!”

Nichols’ funeral will be held at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, beginning at 10:30 a.m. CST. The Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of the National Action Network, will deliver the eulogy. Ben Crump, a national civil rights attorney who represents the Nichols family, will deliver a call to action.

Sharpton gathered Nichols’ family and local activists on Tuesday evening at Mason Temple Church of God in Christ in Memphis. The historic landmark is where the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his final speech the night before he was assassinated nearly 55 years ago.

Sharpton said the family intended to have a “dignified funeral service, not a marathon.”

“This is not about politics, it’s about justice,” the reverend said. “People are coming from all over the world, and we are coming because we’re all Tyre, now.”

Those expected to be in attendance include Vice President Kamala Harris; Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor; and Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd. Also, the families of Eric Garner and Stephon Clark will attend.

The deaths of Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, Floyd in Minneapolis, Garner in New York City and Clark in Sacramento, California, at the hands of police, sparked protests across the nation about racial injustice.

Nichols was the baby of their family, born 12 years after his closest siblings. He had a 4-year-old son and worked hard to better himself as a father, his family said.

Nichols grew up in Sacramento and loved the San Francisco 49ers. He came to Memphis just before the coronavirus pandemic and got stuck. But he was fine with it because he was with his mother, RowVaughn Wells, and they were incredibly close, she said. He even had her name tattooed on his arm.

Last week, friends at a memorial service last week described him as joyful and kind, quick with a smile, and often silly.

“This man walked into a room, and everyone loved him,” said Angelina Paxton, a friend who traveled to Memphis from California for the memorial service.

On Tuesday night, Nichols’ family shared their thoughts on the latest discipline to be handed down to the 10 first responders who in some way participated in the arrest and medical treatment of Nichols.

At Mason Temple in Memphis, the site where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his final “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” speech before his assassination 55 years ago, supporters stood in solidarity with the family.

 “We wanted to start this right on the sacred ground. This is holy ground. And this family now is ours and they’re in the hands of history and they are in the hands of those who will fight,” Sharpton said.

In the three weeks since Nichols’ death, five police officers were fired and charged with murder, and the specialized unit they were a part of was disbanded. Two more officers have been suspended. Also fired: two Memphis Fire Department emergency medical workers and a lieutenant. And more discipline could be coming.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.