Omahans swarm 72nd and Dodge to protest police custody death of George Floyd

Ashley Roth, Guest Reporter

A protest was held on 72nd and Dodge Streets Friday night calling for justice for the death of George Floyd, a black man who died Monday while in the custody of Minneapolis police.

The crowd was heard changing, “I can’t breathe,” in reference to Floyd’s death which was caught on camera and went viral creating nation-wide outrage leading to protests throughout the country.  The officer was shown with his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and Floyd pleading with police saying he couldn’t breathe.

The crowd also shouted, “Don’t shoot,” commenting on the multiple deaths throughout the years of unarmed black people by police.

The crowd consisted of people of all nationalities coming together in unity to show their discontent with racism.

Omaha police were on scene and used pepper balls to keep crowds out of the street and to try and keep the area safe.

Moriah Draper, 2018 Millard West alumna and current student at Washington University was one of the protesters.

“I went because black people are murdered by police all the time,” Draper said.  “I went because racism is still alive and well. I went because the rioting in Minneapolis began when the police became violent to the peaceful protesters. I went because years of peaceful protests have brought forth no change. I went because 6 years ago, Eric Garner also said “I can’t breathe” before he was murdered by police. I went because Derek Chauvin, the cop who knelt on George Floyd’s neck, has 18 prior excessive force complaints and knew George for 17 years, so a 3rd degree murder charge is inadequate; his deaths wasn’t an accident.”

Draper was there when the police used the pepper balls and tear gas and felt its effects.

“Being tear gassed was terrifying,” she said. “I couldn’t see or breathe until people doused my face in water. In the midst of a pandemic where the virus affects the respiratory system, the police decided using tear gas on peaceful protesters wasn’t a good choice.”

Around 10 p.m. the scene was no longer peaceful and arrests were made. Multiple business were vandalized with spray paint and windows were broken.

Ellie Frans, 2017 Bryan High alumna, was one of the protesters. Today she responded on Facebook to the media’s reporting of the vandalism.

“I refuse I stay complicit, to remain silent,” Frans said.  “Last night we met our fate between peaceful protest and police, SWAT, tactical gear, smoke grenades, tear gas, fireworks, dogs, choppers, and horses. I refuse to allow the message to be misconstrued; to allow the media to glorify the violence. Instead of interviewing protests, they listened on police scanners and reported on police emergency calls. Instead of asking the question as to why the community feels the urgency, the necessity, of the situation to use violence, they report on businesses being looted and buildings being burned. I refuse to turn the blind eye.”

Both Draper and Frans are white women who want to do what they can to bring about change and support people of color.

“While I play an important role as a white ally, this moment is not about me,” Draper said.  “I will use my privilege to fight alongside black people, but my voice should not overshadow theirs.