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More than 2,500 people are expected to attend the funeral for Tyre Nichols

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Thousands of people are expected to attend the funeral of Tyre Nichols in Memphis this morning. The 29-year-old died after being beaten by police.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Civil rights leader Al Sharpton is scheduled to deliver the eulogy, as he has for other people brutalized by police in other incidents. Last evening, Sharpton addressed the officers shown on video beating Nichols.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AL SHARPTON: You thought no one would care.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: That's right.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Yes, sir.

SHARPTON: Well, tomorrow, the vice president of the United States is coming to his funeral.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Yes.

SHARPTON: And we are coming because we're all Tyre now.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: That's right.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Yes, right.

SHARPTON: And we are all going to stand up with this family.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: That's right.

MARTÍNEZ: Lucas Finton has been following the Nichols case. He's a reporter for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. Lucas, I can pretty much guarantee it's going to be an emotional day. What do you expect to see at the funeral today?

LUCAS FINTON: I expect that we're going to see a range of emotions from joy to humor to that really profound sadness that we've seen over the last few weeks in Memphis. I think that that'll probably be seen throughout the chapel with family members, high-ranking officials and also friends and activists and community leaders as well.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, we just heard from Al Sharpton a minute ago. You spoke with the Rev. Sharpton about his eulogy. What did he tell you?

FINTON: He really focused on the power of someone who's unfamiliar with an individual eulogizing that person and how that can really give the speaker power to really figure out what that person's death can mean for the future not just for the family, but also for police reform at a state, local and national level. And he focused on how there really needs to be some strong national reforms in order for police reform to stick.

MARTÍNEZ: You also spoke to Rev. Dr. J. Lawrence Turner, the senior pastor at the church. What did he say about how the community is feeling right now?

FINTON: He said that there's a lot - a very profound sense that everyone is mourning after really getting to know who Tyre Nichols was over the past few weeks and then, beyond that, seeing and reading and finding out what happened to him in those last few minutes after the traffic stop and that the community really feels like they've lost a very valuable and a very bright young man.

MARTÍNEZ: How does the killing of Tyre Nichols fit into the history of the city of Memphis?

FINTON: I think that there's a profound sense of trying to use and embrace that history of the '60s and early '70s civil rights era in Memphis and repurpose it for the future. I mean, this is where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came for the sanitation strike. And it's also where he gave that last speech. And it's also where he took his last breath. Throughout the city, you'll see at these protests still the I'm-a-man sign from the sanitation strike. And these are people who are kind of embracing that really powerful message from the past and repurposing it and placing Tyre Nichols' face from the hospital bed, where he's badly bruised, bleeding, intubated, and using that for this present movement and trying to, you know, embrace what came before while also focusing on what comes next.

MARTÍNEZ: Lucas Finton of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. Lucas, thanks.

FINTON: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.