January 30, 2023
Dear Poudre School District community,
Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was on his way home from taking pictures of the sky on Jan. 7 when he was pulled over by police. Five officers, also Black men, brutally beat Mr. Nichols. He died in a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, three days later. The five men were fired from their jobs and face charges for murder. As you may have heard or seen online, multiple horrific videos were released on Friday. This cruel and indisputable account of police brutality against yet another person of color is traumatizing, and we humbly advise our students, staff and community members to strongly consider the traumatic ramifications of watching it. We must stand together and use our collective voice to call out injustice, violence and oppression. We must use our collective will to interrupt systems that perpetuate inequality and racism and replace them with those that foster true equity and a sense of belonging. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The more hands that interlock, the heavier the burden we can lift.”
PSD condemns Mr. Nichols’ murder. Events like this have a major impact on our communities, and we will have resources available to students and staff needing additional support. We must always strive to provide each and every student with an environment that fosters safety and belonging. Please help us in doing so by preparing children to have respectful conversations with peers in and out of class, when the topic is broached.
It can be difficult to find the right words. We are human, complex and nuanced, each with unique emotions, reactions, needs and wants. What may comfort one person may cause another to hurt. Please keep this in mind when you check in with those in your care and, especially, those in your lives who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color. They likely aren’t OK and struggling to process this latest act of violence. If you talk with your children about this tragedy, please let them know that the adults at home and school are here to support them. Please reach out to your school’s front office if your child needs to talk with someone. This guide to talking with students about racial violence may be helpful as you navigate these conversations.
Mr. Nichols was a father to a 4-year-old son, a FedEx driver and photographer, remembered for his quick wit and creative spirit. He was a human being who started his day, perhaps like every other, and won’t do so again because of the inhumanity of others. Children and young adults of color in our community – our
classmates, friends, neighbors, colleagues and teammates – have seen this moment, and too many others like it, and question their safety. They wonder if their name or that of someone they love will be the next one in national headlines. No one should have to think about that. It’s exhausting --- feeling uncertain, afraid, grief-stricken, angry, hypervigilant, and like you’re not enough. We want the members of our PSD community to hear, in no uncertain terms, you are enough, exactly as you are. You are seen. You are valued. You are welcome and belong here.
In PSD, we promise that those we serve are honored for who they are. We want students and staff to bring their whole selves to work and school because every individual enhances our learning communities. We are in a unique position in that we have the collective power and ability to teach our students love, kindness, acceptance, advocacy, and empowerment. The journey for a better tomorrow starts today.