George Floyd protest in Omaha: One arrested after shooting downtown Saturday night
What began Saturday afternoon as groups chanting and waving signs at traffic along the intersection of 72nd and Dodge streets turned violent around 9:30 p.m. as protestors moved downtown, escalating to vandalism — from spray painting buildings to breaking windows with rocks and traffic signs.
A civilian was shot at 12th and Harney downtown, according to a tweet from Omaha Police. A suspect was taken into custody.
At 9 p.m. Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer spoke with media about the protest. He said it began peacefully, but early on there were protesters who sought to agitate the situation and threw rocks at officers.
A number of people were arrested Saturday, he said. As the night continued, more members of law enforcement were the target of bottles, rocks, a squirt gun filled with urine and there were reports of individuals with firearms at the protest, he said.
Schmaderer said concern for the safety of protestors and law enforcement resulted in the gathering being declared an unlawful assembly. Police began to move the crowd away from the intersection.
More objects were thrown at officers, he said, and tear gas was deployed along with pepper balls.
"I want to thank the peaceful protestors who came to exercise their voice on this important matter; but unfortunately some agitated the matter," he said.
No rubber bullets were fired. Schmaderer said the Omaha Police Department does not have rubber bullets in their arsenal.
"Our desire was to be here for everyone's safety and to express themselves. Once it becomes apparent, when things get unlawful and dangerous, that's when the totality of circumstances made for the unlawful assembly," he said.
Preston Love, founder of Black Votes Matter Institute of Community Engagement and professor of black studies at UNO, issued a statement overnight calling for the end to the melee:
- "George Floyd's death creates the message. That message is the demand to stop the assassination of blacks by police or sick racist. For that we protest. If you are breaking the law, destroying property and now violent, you are counter-productive to our message and disrespecting Mr. Floyd and his family. As a black community leader I appeal to you stop, work for our struggle not against it."
With chants like "No justice; no peace," "George Floyd," "I can't breathe," and "Hands up; don't shoot," protestors initially gathered to protest at the intersection of 72nd & Dodge around Saturday afternoon into the evening.
At about 8:20 p.m., OPD deployed crowd-control measures including flashbangs, tear gas, and pepper bullets at protestors in the Target parking lot.
Our 6 News crew was hit with tear gas and ricochet from pepper balls. One reporter was hit in her eye, the other on her legs.
At 8:47 p.m., Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert issued a statement on the protests, ahead of a planned update from OPD:
- For two nights now, protestors have misused their right to lawfully assemble, risking the safety of other citizens and police officers.
It is time to stop inciting violence.
The Omaha Police Department is taking the necessary steps to protect everyone involved. I support the actions of Chief Schmaderer. Those who break the law will be arrested and held accountable.
Tear gas had been used on another group of protestors a few minutes earlier after they threw water bottles at officers.
About 5:40 p.m., officers were seen making arrests in the street. [
Both days of protests here have remained mostly peaceful. Some property damage occurred late Friday night; arrests have occurred both days.
In one notable moment Saturday evening, a protestor and an officer exchanged a peaceful gesture after a short conversation.
A few hours before Saturday's protests began,
Before the crowd started to gather Saturday afternoon, workers were seen at the Target store at 72nd and Dodge streets boarding up windows broken out during last night's protest as a small crowd began to gather along the sidewalks at the intersection just after 4 p.m. [
Across the parking lot a few minutes later, a small crowd began lining the sidewalks along the corner, carrying signs, holding banners, and waving American flags.
Outside the store, Omaha Police were gathered, some in protective gear. Around 4:15 p.m., Nebraska State Patrol troopers were there, too, putting on similar equipment.
By 4:45 p.m., a much larger crowd had started to gather, and cars driving through and past the intersection were honking at protestors, who cheered in response.
Barriers were already in place along Dodge Street extending east and west of 72nd Street.
Police were seen going hands-on with some protestors at 5:30 p.m. Several protestors were seen being handcuffed and loaded into police vehicles afterward.
Members of law enforcement could be seen on the roof of DoSpace with binoculars and what looked like rifles. More police in protective gear entered the intersection.
There were more arrests as the protest continued. Protestors could be seen leaving the intersection and walking to the parking lot of Target nearby.
A police ATV was also at the scene, drawing the attention of protestors in the parking lot.