Protestors March From Police Headquarters To City Hall

By: Jeff Sabin, Brian Mastre Email
By: Jeff Sabin, Brian Mastre Email
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While the Omaha Police department continues to investigate allegations of officer brutality, concerned citizens staged more protests Monday.

The protest started outside at Omaha Police Headquarters at 15th and Howard. It then moved inside where Deputy Chief Dave Baker addressed the group, explaining that the investigation into the March 21st incident is not complete.

“The chief is aware of everyone's concern,” Baker said. “And expediency is a priority. But the highest priority is getting it right and getting it right the first time.”

The arrest took place during what started out as a neighborhood parking enforcement dispute.

So far, two officers have been reassigned, two other officers are on paid administrative leave, and one command officer is now on paid administrative leave for a total of five.

After police headquarters, protestors marched to City Hall. At one point the group of about 25 people blocked several lanes on Farnam while they walked.

“They are shaking in their boots over this group of people out here,” said D'Shawn Cunningham, the protest's organizer. “They've been afraid ever since last Thursday of people showing up. And this is the fruit of what they've sown. They've sown anger and discontent. And that's what we have. We're here to reap it.”

They headed inside City Hall to deliver a message to the city council. They told city officials they planned to sit in the city council office until city council members addressed their concerns.

“They don't take it seriously,” said Cunningham. “They have not had anything like this to prompt them. And we're going to keep this up. We have all these people here. We have people watching online. We have people at home that want to see something done from this.

Monday night, the protestors kept up the pressure with a town hall meeting at the OIC building.

Organizer Willie Hamilton went through the list of marches and rallies over the years where they demanding change in police and community relations.

He said they were failure after failure. So why would this time be any different? "This is the first time it seems that there are more white folks involved with this thing -- and that's going to take this thing to the next level. I know people will say I shouldn't say that but as long as they keep it north and south -- it's going to stay north and south."

"The problem for me is the OPD do not have to answer to us," said Sharee Johnson, mother of the three men arrested and videotape two weeks ago. "They do not have to give us information.”

"It is not an illusion. It is repetition," said one member of the public.

One incumbent attended the meeting -- Councilman Franklin Thompson -- who was criticized by one man for finally supporting the police auditor position. The man felt Thompson did so only because he's up for re-election in west Omaha.

Franklin Thompson: "If you want an ally or friend, co-op me -- don't push me away. If you push me away, I'll say bye-bye."
Audience member: " Bye-bye."
Thompson: "You don't want an ally. In my district, I don't have to support this and I get re-elected. I am willing to listen to you and take heat from my district."

We reached out to Thompson's city council opponent and former Elkhorn mayor Phil Klein. He says it's premature to support the auditor, because it costs a lot of money.

Both men will advance to the May general election since they are the only two candidates in the District 6 race.

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