The death of Tyre Nichols, days after a severe beating from Memphis police officers, has triggered renewed calls for police reform. Mr. Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, had been pulled over in a traffic stop. Footage released by authorities reveals that Mr. Nichols was repeatedly and seriously beaten for over three minutes. Five police officers, who are also Black men, have been indicted and charged with several crimes including second-degree murder. Other officials and emergency services personnel have been either dismissed or subject to administrative measures. An independent investigation by the Department of Justice was announced by the city’s Mayor. A unit of Memphis police, accused of intimidating mainly young Black men, has also been disbanded. Activists and members of Congress have renewed their calls for legislation to address police brutality, including the revival of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that stalled in Congress after bipartisan negotiations failed to reach an agreement in 2021. Human Rights Watch has highlighted the structural problems in policing and lack of accountability for the disproportionate use of force against Black people, who are three times more likely to be killed than white people, at the hands of police.
The panel of Congress established to investigate the riot of 6 January 2021 has issued its final report after 18 months of work, in which it holds that former president Trump took part in a conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The report also recommends that Trump is charged with federal crimes, including allegedly aiding an insurrection. Nevertheless, its findings are not binding on the Justice Department. It further recommends that the former president is barred from public office. The committee will dissolve on 3 January 2023.
On 8 November, the United States held its midterm legislative elections. Electors voted to fill seats at both the Senate and House of Representatives, governorships, and other local positions. Voter turnout was approximately 46.0 per cent, with higher participation rates in battleground states. Democrats held on to the Senate, with one of the seats (Georgia) determined in a runoff election that took place in early December. Republicans took over the House with a slim majority. The elections were held after a polarizing campaign that saw election officials being harassed, as well as some reports of partisan officials taking up positions at the polls. Some democracy advocates expressed concern for the considerable number of election deniers (candidates who have cast doubt on the results of the 2020 elections) on the ballots. Twelve women were elected and will serve as governors in the upcoming year (about 24 per cent of governorships), three more than the previous record of nine. A total of 149 women will serve in the House and Senate (about a quarter of members of Congress), two more seats than currently held by women.
US officials have come to an agreement with Mexican counterparts, through which the United States will give humanitarian visas (humanitarian parole) to thousands of Venezuelan migrants and asylum seekers, while turning many more away to await the processing of their asylum requests in Mexican territory. The policy will rely on Title 42 to fast track the deportation of Venezuelans asylum seekers crossing into US territory by land. Human rights activists have criticized the move as contrary to due process and for risking the safety of many, including children and teenagers under the age of 18. Some have also questioned the timing and the political interests behind the policy, given the upcoming midterm elections.