MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Hundreds of peaceful protesters, spurred on by recently released body camera footage showing the brutal beating of Tire Nichols by police officers, demanded justice, accountability and police reform Saturday afternoon.

Many in the crowd expressed frustration regarding a long history of police violence against citizens, corruption and the need to disband various tactical units of the police department.

“Just growing up here, this isn’t really new to us. It’s new for us to be on this scale, but this is a problem we’re tired of seeing,» said protester George Brooks, 44, outside one of the city’s police stations where more than 200 people. “We are used to having problems with the police in this city.”

Body camera footage of Nichols being savagely beaten by Memphis officers on January 7 was released Friday night, sparking protests across the United States. He died three days later.

Five police officers have been fired from the department and face second-degree murder charges. City officials announced Saturday the disbandment of the year-old SCORPION unit,

Organizer Hunter Demster said city officials have complied with the demands of some protesters, including announcing Saturday that the tactical unit Scorpion, which stands for Operation Street Crimes to Restore Peace to Our Neighborhoods, will be disbanded.

The high-profile anti-violence unit was launched in November 2021 as the city’s homicide rate was skyrocketing and the community was calling for action.

«In the process of listening carefully to the family of Tire Nichols, community leaders and uninvolved officers who have done a quality job on their assignment, it is in everyone’s best interest to permanently deactivate the SCORPION Unit,» the department said in a statement. communicated on Saturday.

Demster said the decision was great, but not good enough, and insisted that the department’s gang and crime task force must also be removed.

“Long-term goals, we will have sustained action closing trade and roads until the actual policy is passed,” he said. “If a group comes to the civic center for a function, we are going to close it. If the President of the United States drives down the street, that’s the street we’re going to close.»

He added that he wants people to stop being killed by the police in addition to massive police reform.

At the rally, many of the attendees said they were fed up with an unfair and aggressive police force with a long local history of corruption.

Memphis protester Joshua Lewis, 18, said he was not surprised by the actions of the officers who were caught on camera beating Nichols.

“It made me angry to see the shooting video but this is normal (in Memphis) and I feel like it’s time for a change. We have been trying to change it for years,” he said, adding that it starts with the police and ends with the city council.

“The corruption of the Memphis police and the death of Tire Nichols, we are completely tired. We need answers because after watching the video, I have more questions,» said protester Rachel Spriggs, 38.