Greg Murray was in Omaha last weekend visiting relatives, and he and a friend, a 19-year-old woman, decided to show their support for police.
About 10:30 p.m. Saturday, the pair went to Omaha’s Central Police Headquarters, where protesters gathered to demand justice for Kenneth Jones, a Black man who was fatally shot by Omaha police Thursday night during a traffic stop.
The duo left after about 10 minutes when tensions escalated. Some of the protesters shoved, pushed and shouted obscenities at Murray and the woman, according to video and police reports.
“I understand what the protest was for, even though I don’t think they were in the right,” said Murray, 19, of Jonestown, Texas. “I’m fine with the protesting, I just wanted to show the cops that some people do appreciate them. They’re a very important part of our society, and we need them.”
Murray arrived downtown with a sign that said “Defend Police.” The woman’s sign said “I (heart symbol) OPD!”
The environment turned hostile when they arrived, Murray said, and protesters surrounded the two and began yelling, with some threatening to hurt or kill him.
“Lots of” protesters pushed him, Murray said, but he figured because he’s a tall guy, they didn’t mess with him. He said he tried to step in between the woman and the protesters, but some people pushed and hit her.
Warning: The video in this tweet contains offensive language.
A video reshared by the Douglas County Republican Party shows a protester, wearing a mask, yelling “(expletive) that sign, justice for Kenneth Jones, (expletive),” and screaming at the woman, who can be seen on the video without a mask. Some protesters followed the woman as she walked and held up the sign while blocking her sign with their signs.
Police officers saw a 32-year-old woman swing a sign on a stick, which made “contact with the counterprotesters,” according to a police report.
The 32-year-old woman was cited on suspicion of two counts of misdemeanor third-degree assault and disorderly conduct, police said Sunday. Another woman, a 35-year-old from Omaha, was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct and destruction of property.
The 32-year-old woman who was cited told police that she felt hurt and disrespected because the pro-police protesters showed up, the police report said.
The woman did not immediately return a phone message left by a reporter.
Murray said protesters also grabbed his sign and tore it up.
At some point, officers fired pepper balls at the crowd, Murray said, and escorted the pro-police protesters to the police station.
The 19-year-old woman later told police that a woman with pink hair “had struck her in the head a few times,” according to a police report.
On Monday, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer commented on the presence of pro-police supporters at the protest Saturday night and said having two groups with opposing views at one spot “tends to cause problems.”
“I appreciate the pro-police position, but it’s not helpful to us when you come down and display that in a protest environment that’s against the police,” he said. “Their presence caused a bit of a problem.”