January 31, 2023

Processing the Death of Tyre Nichols

Processing the Death of Tyre Nichols
If you are traumatized by the horrific death of Tyre Nichols, know that you are not alone. Reach out—SMC has resources and spaces where you can process your feelings in a supportive environment. Read this message from SMC President Dr. Kathryn Jeffery & VP of Student Affairs Michael Tuitasi for more.

Jan. 31, 2023

Dear SMC Community:

Last Friday, video footage was released of the brutal beating 29-year-old Tyre Nichols received after being arrested on Jan. 7, before his subsequent death three days later in Memphis, Tennessee. We recognize the trauma and horror the news of this incident may have caused members of our college community, particularly those who see themselves in Tyre Nichols, who was also a father to a four-year-old, and a beautiful soul with a creative eye. Our hearts go out to Tyre’s family, and we share your grief.

To echo U.S. President Joe Biden: “We must do everything in our power to ensure our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment, and dignity for all.” It is our hope that the institutionalized, systemic failure which led to Tyre’s death will be remedied swiftly.

If you have not watched the video—which is circulating widely on social media and elsewhere—know that it is okay to not watch it, especially if you know that it will trigger a traumatic response. Whether you have seen this horrific footage or not, this NPR article provides some tips on ways to cope, including assessing your own mental health before viewing the video, recognizing signs of trauma in yourself, and leaning on those you can trust and who know how you are feeling. Also current American Psychological Association president Dr. Thema Bryant shares coping strategies in this video: “How to Process the Killing of Tyre Nichols.”

Santa Monica College is committed to being here for you, and providing avenues where you can process your feelings in a space of compassion and empathy. Please make note of the following resources:

  • Students can contact Black Collegians and the Adelante Program by calling the SMC counseling department at 310-434-4210 to speak in confidence with a counselor. A separate virtual discussion space is being organized specifically for Black Collegians Umoja Community students this week. If you are enrolled in Black Collegians, please be on the lookout for more information to come from the program itself. The Pan African Alliance will also be hosting a round table discussion for its membership on Feb. 1.

  • The Center for Wellness and Wellbeing provides wellness and psychological services for students. For 24/7 emotional support, students can call 1-800-691-6003. Also, visit the Center’s website to make an appointment.


  • SMC faculty and staff may reach out to the EASE Program for free, confidential mental health support and counseling. Or call 800-882-1341.



Please hold space for yourself during this time. We understand the range of debilitating emotions you may be feeling. Stay connected, and reach out—you are not alone.

SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery

SMC Vice President of Student Affairs Michael Tuitasi