Confrontation at Omaha’s Juneteenth parade between community organizers, police deemed a misunderstanding

Police and an armed group marching in the Juneteenth parade squared off and parade organizers say it was all due to a misunderstanding
A confrontation between Omaha police and a North Omaha community organization found its way into a parade earlier this month.
Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 6:11 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A confrontation between Omaha police and a North Omaha community organization found its way into a parade earlier this month.

Police and an armed group marching in the Juneteenth parade squared off and parade organizers say it was all due to a misunderstanding.

When asked if they were surprised by being stopped by the police, Qasim Shabazz, Black Agenda Alliance co-founder says, “No, why not I think it’s just a part of being Black.”

But Omaha police and organizers of the parade, the NAACP, say this all started with a misunderstanding about something that happened earlier when they stopped an armed person outside of the parade route.

“When I heard what was going on at 24th & Lake I thought it was the same group and so I said thinking it was white supremacists that they shouldn’t be in the parade,” said Rev. T. Michael Williams.

The group that was stopped was a different group, the Black Agenda Alliance, a collection of community organizations with a focus on families and improving Omaha’s Black community.

“We felt like since it was a day of freedom we wanted to exercise everything we could that had to do with freedom so the right to carry our guns, the right to be out there with our flags doing our own thing,” said Sherman Wells.

Sherman Wells is a member of the Black Agenda Alliance. He says his group just wanted the same respect that was given to armed people who showed up at the state capitol to testify a couple of years ago with guns and dressed in army gear.

But Omaha police say stopping the group had nothing to do with the fact that they were carrying guns, they were doing what parade organizers asked of them.

“Our understanding is they didn’t want any firearms in the event due to what happened last year people sneaking in with open carry guns if you remember that.”

“No one snook in, and everyone’s properly but you guys are going the right thing.”

“There’s lots of misunderstanding.”

Rev. T. Michael Williams is the president of the NAACP, he said it was ok for the group to march in the parade but the group was stopped again later along the route.

“We ain’t disarming nothing.”

“At that point, things got a little bit more contentious because we had already told them one thing a few blocks away based on the first organizers we talked to,” said Capt. Jay Leavitt, OPD.

Members of the BAA said they had issues with a police officer they believed was overaggressive during the incident.

“And so when she stepped out in the crowd with us she initially pushed one of the guys with his nine right here and told him to move back and I said don’t start physical contact,” said Sherman.

Omaha police Capt. Leavitt says he believes officers acted responsibly and professionally but the group can file a complaint if they feel otherwise.

“I would say all our officers are equipped with body-worn cameras that day they were recording footage,” said Capt. Leavitt.

Rev Williams says personally he had no problem with the group in the parade with their guns but he’ll have to check things out before it happens again.

“I’ve been informed by national that we have to get clearance from the national NAACP as far as liability issues are concerned so that’s where we are.”

The NAACP says they will talk to everyone involved in this misunderstanding to make sure this type of confrontation doesn’t happen again.

The Omaha NAACP plans to talk to all parties involved to get everything cleared up hopefully sometime Wednesday.

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