Tyre Nichols Video Released, Middle East Violence, Latest NPR Shopping Trip : Up First Memphis releases footage of the violent traffic stop that resulted in the death of Tyre Nichols. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits the Middle East amid renewed violence. NPR returns to a particular Walmart for more insight into the economy.

Tyre Nichols Video Released, Middle East Violence, Latest NPR Shopping Trip

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1152150947/1152313440" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


The city of Memphis releases footage of the police violence that led to the death of Tyre Nichols.


We'll go to Memphis for reaction and hear about grief and the community there.

RASCOE: I'm Ayesha Rascoe.

SIMON: And I'm Scott Simon. And this is UP FIRST from NPR News.


SIMON: Also, violence in Jerusalem and what the U.S. secretary of state hopes to achieve as he heads there this weekend.

RASCOE: And NPR heads back to Walmart for a new update on what shopping there can tell us about the state of the economy.

SIMON: So please stay with us. We've got the news you need to start your weekend.


SIMON: We begin in Memphis, where protesters shut down an interstate bridge over the Mississippi River last night in response to the awful violence captured on video of Memphis police brutalizing Tyre Nichols after a traffic stop.

RASCOE: Nichols died Jan. 10, three days after the attack. He was 29. Five officers have been fired and are facing charges. Two sheriff's deputies have also been relieved of duty and are being investigated. NPR's Debbie Elliott is in Memphis and joins us now.

Hi, Debbie.


RASCOE: So, you know, I mean, lots of just anger and disgust after watching these videos from, you know, President Biden to governors to police chiefs around the country. Like, how are people in Memphis feeling?

ELLIOTT: You know, this is a difficult moment. Nichols' family had asked people to protest but protest peacefully. And that's pretty much what played out here last night after the videos came out. The most disruptive protests started a little bit before they dropped at a downtown park. Here's Black Lives Matter organizer Amber Sherman.


AMBER SHERMAN: I'm not waiting for the video to drop. I know what happened.


SHERMAN: Tyre was murdered.

ELLIOTT: So they had a brief rally. And then about, you know - I don't know - three or four dozen people took to the streets. They went to the I-55 bridge between Memphis and West Memphis, Ark., and they blocked traffic for about three hours.


SHERMAN: No justice.


SHERMAN: No justice.


SHERMAN: Justice for Tyre.


ELLIOTT: So that justice-for-Tyre chant is something you hear time and time again here. Other people gathered in churches to reflect on what is really just a wrenching and somber moment for the city.

RASCOE: Let's talk about the videos now. They are very violent, full of profanities. And we're not going to play any of the audio. But even just talking about it is - we have to warn listeners that it's very difficult to even hear about what was done to a human being.

ELLIOTT: I mean, it makes you sick to your stomach. First, you see the officers make this super-aggressive traffic stop. They yank Nichols from his car. All the time, he's, like, trying to cooperate and figure out what they want. He's saying, what did I do, you know? He seems scared. He then flees. And a later video shows that officers have regained custody of him, and they're beating him up, and they're kicking him in the head. They're using a baton to flog him on the back. They're leaving him struggling on the ground as more and more law enforcement arrives at the scene. The most chilling part of the whole thing is that Nichols cries out for his mother several times. He's within a few hundred feet of her home. His mama, RowVaughn Wells, says she has not watched all of the video. But yesterday, she described the heartbreak of hearing that detail.


ROWVAUGHN WELLS: For a mother to know that their child was calling them in their need and I wasn't there for him, do you know how I feel right now? Because I wasn't there for my son.

ELLIOTT: And the family does say they're satisfied with the quick response by the Memphis police chief and the prosecutor to bring the officers to justice. Now they'd like to see more done to legally force police to intervene and stop this kind of violence-driven policing.

RASCOE: Community activists are also pressing for big changes to policing in Memphis. What are they asking for?

ELLIOTT: You know, both change in policy and change in the culture. It's long overdue, says Caroline Robinson. She lives in the historically Black Orange Mound neighborhood in Memphis.

CAROLINE ROBINSON: I am 74 years old. And some things just can't go on. You know, this is a city of - that's been like this forever. Nobody will put their foot down. Even when Martin Luther King was killed, nobody put their foot down. It is time that we start doing that.

ELLIOTT: Specifically, community leaders are asking the city to get police out of traffic enforcement, and they want to eliminate the special task forces like the Scorpion unit that was involved here, a group intended to send teams of officers into high-crime neighborhoods to root out crime. Since Nichols' death, other Memphians have come forward to complain about mistreatment from these units.

RASCOE: That's NPR's Debbie Elliott reporting from Memphis. Debbie, thank you so much.

ELLIOTT: You're welcome.


SIMON: And it's been a violent few days in the Middle East. There was a shooting in Jerusalem this morning. Israeli police say a 13-year-old Palestinian shot and wounded two people.

RASCOE: Last night saw one of the worst attacks on Israelis in years. A Palestinian gunman killed seven people outside a Jerusalem synagogue. And the day before that, an Israeli military raid on suspected militants killed nine Palestinians. NPR's Daniel Estrin joins us now from Tel Aviv. Hi, Daniel.


RASCOE: So first, update us about the latest attacks in Jerusalem.

ESTRIN: Well, Israeli police and media are saying that a 13-year-old Palestinian boy opened fire this morning and wounded a father and son who were dressed for Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath. And Israeli security guards shot and wounded that young shooter. This happened outside a Jewish settlement within a Palestinian neighborhood of Jerusalem. And, you know, he is just 13 years old, so there are questions whether he was inspired by the attack the night before when a Palestinian in Jerusalem opened fire outside a synagogue and killed seven people.

We've been hearing today from witnesses who say a husband and wife were at a Friday night Shabbat dinner. They heard shots, they ran outside, and they were shot and killed. Someone else stopped his car to help the wounded, and he was also shot and killed. We've been seeing Palestinians, some Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, celebrating these attacks, handing out sweets. President Biden called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and said the synagogue attack was horrific.

RASCOE: Secretary of State Antony Blinken is on a trip to the region that was scheduled a while ago, before all of this was happening. How will this latest violence figure into that trip now?

ESTRIN: Well, now Blinken is coming into a situation of a cycle of violence and will try to keep it from spinning out of control. Friday night's attack was the deadliest attack on Israelis in years. The day before, Israeli troops carried out their deadliest attack on Palestinians in the West Bank in years. They were going after suspects in Jenin. They killed gunmen and a 61-year-old woman.

And we have a new far-right government in Israel. They may take some tough measures now against Palestinians after these latest attacks. And for the Palestinian side, their leadership has called off their usual cooperation between Palestinian police and Israeli security. So Blinken is coming to the region. He's going to be meeting Israeli and Palestinian leaders. But he is going to have a very tough time trying to cool tempers.

RASCOE: So does Israel's new right-wing government have any common ground with the Biden administration? Or is there going to be some distancing between the U.S. and Israel?

ESTRIN: That's a very good question. I mean, Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has two big asks from the U.S. He wants the U.S. to get tougher on Iran, and he wants the U.S. to help Israel make history and open diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia. Those two goals may be hard because overshadowing all of that is the violence now and is the U.S. and its concerns over Israel's new far-right members of the new government. This is a government that wants to legalize little settlement outposts deep inside the West Bank, where the Biden administration says that's a red line. That land should be reserved for a future Palestinian state.

RASCOE: Israelis have also been going to the streets, demonstrating against their government's plans to weaken the powers of the judiciary. Will Blinken be taking a stand on that?

ESTRIN: That is a very big question. I mean, the Biden administration has been, so far, pretty cautious not to be seen as meddling in domestic affairs in Israel. But this is the major issue in Israel right now. There has been unprecedented opposition to the Israeli government's plans to weaken the justice system, and there are going to be big demonstrations planned in Israel today against those plans. We'll see if Blinken stands up against them.

RASCOE: That's NPR's Daniel Estrin in Tel Aviv. Daniel, thank you so much.

ESTRIN: Thank you.


RASCOE: There's a story in every shopping cart from the wood pulp in a roll of paper towel to fruits and vegetables that survive floods and droughts.

SIMON: For the past four years, NPR has visited the same Walmart store to try to track prices, get insights into global trade and a ground-level look at the U.S. economy. NPR's Alina Selyukh joins us. Alina, thanks so much for being with us.


SIMON: What'd you learn?

SELYUKH: Yeah, so we started this project during the trade war with China. It can be hard to remember that. That was 2018. And since then, we've been walking every aisle of this one Walmart store south of Savannah, tracking prices of dozens of items. We went back last month, and the big headline this year is kind of depressing, maybe not too surprising. Since pre-pandemic, prices in our shopping cart on average increased about 23%.

SIMON: Ooh. Ooh.

SELYUKH: And one reason we chose Walmart other than, you know, it's the most popular supermarket - it puts a huge focus on keeping prices stable day to day. So when Walmart prices do change dramatically, they can reflect big shifts. And in this case, there were just so many of them - first, those tariffs the U.S. put on Chinese imports, then the pandemic chaos and the supply chains, wages finally starting to rise, wild swings in the cost of fuel, the war in Ukraine. And these are just the general themes. Many products have their own particular stories also.

SIMON: Well, share a couple with us that you've discovered.

SELYUKH: Yeah. For example, oatmeal - Quaker Oats saw one of the biggest price jumps in our basket - 73% since 2019. PepsiCo, which owns Quaker, did not talk to me, but I did find out that in 2021, a severe drought caused the worst oat harvest in North America since basically the end of the Civil War. Pretty wild. And I do want to tell you about another thing that we saw that's kind of fascinating, which is shrinkflation (ph).

SIMON: Of course, that's when companies will put in fewer tissues into the box or fewer chips in a bag or chips in a cookie.

SELYUKH: Exactly. Exactly. I actually have props for this. I brought something from our shopping cart...

SIMON: Yeah.

SELYUKH: ...That illustrates this perfectly.


SELYUKH: OK. It is a classic bar of soap by Dove. Does it look unusual to you, Scott?

SIMON: Well, it looks like a bar of soap. You mean, is it smaller?

SELYUKH: Ding, ding, ding.

SIMON: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Thank you. It is smaller.

SELYUKH: Yeah, so this very same bar of soap in 2019 used to weigh 4 ounces. Now it has shrunk by a quarter ounce, which you can't really see, but you can sort of guess, and so I'm asking you about it.

SIMON: Yeah.

SELYUKH: Unilever, which makes Dove, also didn't talk to me, but we found that now you have to pay almost the same amount of money for an eight-pack of this Dove soap as you would have spent on a 10-pack before the pandemic. And so experts say that if you're really intent on getting the best price, it's worth checking the price per unit like item in a package or per ounce in this case.

SIMON: Alina, did you discover anything that got cheaper?

SELYUKH: That is the question everyone wants to know. Yes. Yes, actually - Argo cornstarch, a Vizio TV and garlic, shoelaces and a screwdriver, which got 60% cheaper since 2019.

SIMON: Really? A screwdriver is 60% cheaper.

SELYUKH: Exactly.

SIMON: Why did these prices drop? How can they arrange for that when everything's going up?

SELYUKH: Yeah, OK. So with the TV, it's pretty clear. TVs get cheaper every year. And last year, electronics were often overstocked. With the rest, it gets kind of weird. Argo, for example, told me they did not actually lower their cornstarch prices, suggesting maybe Walmart did that. And stores do sometimes lower prices of some items and then raise them elsewhere in the aisles, so maybe that's what happened.

And with the screwdriver, we saw another common technique. Walmart used to carry a big name brand. They were Stanley screwdrivers. But now it's got its own store brand called Hyper Tough. Private brands are usually more profitable for stores. So if they can get away with not offering a big name brand, this way, they can lure shoppers with lower prices while still making their money.

SIMON: NPR's Alina Selyukh on the watch. Thanks so much for being with us.

SELYUKH: Thank you.


RASCOE: And that's UP FIRST for Saturday, January 28, 2023. I'm Ayesha Rascoe.

SIMON: And I'm Scott Simon. This month, Andrew Craig, Fernando Farro, Ashley Lisenby all produced this Saturday version of UP FIRST.

RASCOE: Our editors were Hadeel al-Shalchi and Ed McNulty. Danny Hensel and Michael Ratcliffe directed with Hannah Gluvna and Carleigh Strange as technical directors.

SIMON: Our supervising editor is Evie Stone. Sarah Lucy Oliver is our executive producer and Deputy Jim Kane, our deputy managing editor.

RASCOE: All those people and more devote their talents to Weekend Edition as well. Hear more of what you found here on the radio.

SIMON: Tune in every Saturday and Sunday morning. Look up your NPR station at stations.npr.org.


Copyright © 2023 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.