Officials respond to Friday's George Floyd protest in Omaha
Local and state leaders, including law enforcement, in Nebraska and Iowa on Saturday condemned the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and called on their communities to keep any future protest activity peaceful.
in response to Floyd's death of in Minneapolis on Monday,
Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and Police Chief Todd Schmaderer gave statements at the start of Saturday's 1 p.m news conference.
Schmaderer detailed the events of the protest began peacefully but later turned violent as law enforcement urged people to disperse.
Saturday morning, the area of 72nd and Dodge streets was marked with graffiti. Some businesses had broken windows.
Stothert said what happened in Minnesota was wrong, but violence and destruction of property does not honor Floyd's memory.
Schmaderer thanked Gov. Ricketts, Stothert, and others for their support and then recounted the events of Friday night:
- 5:30 p.m. -- Command post was set up
- 6:30 p.m. -- 600 people were at the intersection standing on sidewalks
- 7:25 p.m. -- 60-70 people began to crowd in the street
- By 7:36 p.m. -- Rocks were thrown at officers, and people were standing on top of a Nebraska State Patrol cruiser
- 8:03 p.m. -- A citywide help-an-officer call was made
- 8:20 p.m. -- The rapid deployment force, or "riot police," were deployed as more than 1,000 people were now at the protest
- 10:01 p.m. -- The Target store at 72nd & Dodge was approached by protesters, and law enforcement stepped in
- By 2 a.m. -- The situation was under control
Schmaderer said pepperball and tear gas canisters were used on the crowd. No rubber bullets were fired, he said.
There were 21 arrests made for various charges, including firearms possession, destruction of property, and failure to disperse. He said 16 of those arrested were white; two were Hispanic; and three were black.
One civilian was injured during the incident, the chief said. Two officers were injured, treated, and released, he said.
Schmaderer reported that 12 businesses in the nearby area — including Sears, Target, Verizon, Hobby Lobby, and Best Buy — had thousands of dollars in damage to windows and stolen items.
In addition, he said, 12 OPD cruisers were damaged. One had the word "ISIS" carved into it, he said.
"We want peaceful rallies," Schmader said. "If there are things we can do in advance, we'll try to do that to make it as safe as possible."
The OPD chief thanked the NSP for their support and said that without them, things could have been worse.
"We do not feel what happened in Minneapolis is appropriate. And that police officer is not a police officer at all," Schmaderer said about former officer
Stothert said all the work done by the police department in the past seven years has been in great strides.
"They have been earning trust for years," she said. "We hope this incident, which was tragic... we hope we can stand back, examine what happened and move on."
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts issued a statement condemning Floyd's death and said he was appalled and angry. He also condemned the destruction of property in both Lincoln and Omaha.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie have also condemned Floyd's death.
In a statement issued Saturday morning, Reynolds said: “The unsettling and criminal act of violence that robbed George Floyd of his rights and his life was unconscionable and must be met with swift justice. As Iowans, it is right for us to react in different ways, from sadness to outrage. But it is never right to react with violence."
Cownie commented on protests in Des Moines and said "This was a difficult and challenging night for the City of Des Moines. What began as a peaceful rally for many escalated into needless violence on our streets. Fortunately, no one suffered serious injuries, however, as we’ve seen in the light of day there was damage to nearby businesses, cars, and property."