According to a report, Police in Omaha, Nebraska, got trapped a Black Lives Matter protest march on a bridge. This funneled all 120 people, including journalists and legal observer, into police department custody.
The preotest leader, a 23-year-old Bear Alexander said “It’s psychological warfare.” Alexander is also leader at ProBLAC, a new local Black-led protest group. “They wanted to discourage any future thought of doing direct action.”
This protest march was the first one Alexander has ever led, and it was the first in Omaha since early June. It happened briefly after a white bar owner shot and killed James Scurlock, a 22-year-old demonstrating during the first weekend of Black Lives Matter protests after police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis.
For the protest movement, Scurlock’s death during a demonstration calling for an end to violence against Black was a major shift.
“The night James Scurlock died, the next day we didn’t do anything. It goes to show the type of city Omaha is,” Alexander said. “We were told by our local Black leaders to not do anything — to calm down and go home and to rest, and to let them all handle it,” said Alexander.
Alexander claimed to be a ‘perfect example of systematic racism.’ At age 20, he spent a year in state prison for selling marijuana. He’d been a third-year college student, wanting to be a teacher, but the felony charge ensured that was impossible, so he learned videography.
“Me going to prison, it didn’t fuel me enough,” said Alexander. “It added a little fire in me, added knowledge and perspective. Those George Floyd protests were what really, really got me. That’s just what took me into hyperdrive.”
After the arrests, the ProBLAC members at the Portland protests suggested that Omaha had to be back out again in the streets the next day.
“They told us, ‘Why aren’t you out? You need to be protesting right now,’” Alexander said. “Omaha just isn’t ready for that — protests back to back to back to back.”
He’s currently organizing a protest calling for the city to defund the police on Aug. 11, during a public hearing on the city’s 2021 budget.
“We have a ways to go,” he said, “but we’re getting there.”