MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A charitable foundation on Friday named a canopy at a Memphis park for Tyre Nichols, who died last month after he was brutally beaten by officers in a case that has intensified calls for police reform and led to emotional tributes in this Mississippi River city and around the country.
With Nichols' mother and stepfather in attendance, the Hyde Family Foundation and the Memphis River Parks Partnership dedicated the “Sunset Canopy” in honor of Nichols at Tom Lee Park, which sits along the river and is currently under major renovation.
Nichols was kicked, punched and hit with a police baton during a Jan. 7 arrest near his home. He died in a hospital three days later.
Police said he had been suspected of reckless driving, but no verified evidence of a traffic violation has emerged in public documents or in video released by the city.
Nichols, 29, was known to enjoy taking pictures of sunsets, and the park is known as a prime location for viewing them over the river.
Nichols' mother and stepfather signed the first wooden roof slat of the canopy before it was lifted to the top of the large canopy and drilled into place. When finished, the high, wing-shaped canopy will cover a large area of the park overlooking the river.
Nichols' mother, RowVaughn Wells, wrote, “Mommy miss you so much! Love you. Mom.” Stepfather Rodney Wells wrote, “Love you Tyre. Dad.”
RowVaughn Wells said her son was "smiling down right now, and he's just jumping up for joy.”
“Like my wife said, he would love this,” Rodney Wells said. “There's nothing he likes more than watching the sunset over the Mississippi.”
Nichols has been honored at memorials and other events in Memphis and other cities. An avid skateboarder, Nichols was the subject of a tribute at a Memphis skate park last month.
Tom Lee Park is the site of the annual World BBQ Championship and the Beale Street Music Festival.