• Policing in America is yet another public health crisis.
  • Police brutality is about power, not race.
  • Value = Love and love is a basic human need.
  • If the root cause of poor emotional health is not addressed, destructive behaviors will continue.

Tyre Nichols

Is Tyre Nichols’s Murder By Police The Tipping Point? Not Likely.

By Kevin R. Strauss, M.E.

With Tyre Nichols’s recent murder by the police in Memphis, I think it’s painfully clear that policing in America is yet another public health crisis. Once again, we’re sadly missing the point of its root cause and that’s why it continues. Too often, police brutality is considered a race issue but when 5 black police officers beat a black man to death, it’s not about race. It’s about power.

Why do people seek power? I believe it’s a compensatory behavior attempting to ease the deep emotional pain of not feeling valued. Digging in further,

Value = Love

and love is a basic human need just like food and water.

How many public health issues can be improved or solved if the Power Differential is addressed? Marginalized communities don’t have the power. We can provide resources and support (e.g., urban markets in food deserts) but without a fundamental change in beliefs and values, the differential won’t change long term. Those in power also need their absent emotional needs addressed and help in changing their belief systems and worldviews. When they feel valued [emotionally], they’ll be more willing to relinquish power. This is how Daryl Davis has gotten so many KKK members to quit.

We know people in power will do anything and everything to keep it. It’s how they manage their emotional pain. This is clearly evident with the latest gerrymandering and other voter suppression actions so many states have implemented since 2020. Yet another public health crisis.

Obviously, there are countless other public health issues which most often focus on physical health such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and homelessness not to mention major issues such as loneliness, isolation, depression, addiction, etc.

But given Tyre’s murder last week by public servants, and the current “corrective” actions discussed focusing on training and behaviors (a.k.a. symptoms), I don’t expect anything to change going forward. (Just like how the War on Drugs has failed for 100 years.)

If the root problem is not addressed, the symptoms (e.g., murders by police) will continue. The root problem is poor emotional health and emotional pain and this is very different than mental health and emotional intelligence. A person’s behaviors are the symptoms of their pain.

Note: I define Emotional Health as a person’s ability to give and receive love, connection, and belonging.