During a protest in Omaha, Nebraska, a young protestor, James Scurlock, was murdered at the hands of a known bigot, James Gardner. Scurlock was protesting in the Old Market on May 30th, when a fight broke out amongst the crowd and a confrontational Gardner shot and killed Scurlock. The District Attorney has since refused to press any charges, alleging that Gardener was acting out of self-defense.
Gardner owns two bars in the area on the street where the protests occurred. He is a self-professed libertarian, former Marine, and Trump supporter. He has a long history of racism and transphobia and has used his platform to spread hate. He was vocally against transgender rights, discrimintated against black patrons, and was cited for failing to comply with investigations around an assault that happened in one of his bars.
Videos of the incident show Gardener and protestors outside of his bar, The Gatsby. Bystanders described the atmosphere leading up to the shooting as racially charged, with a known racist member of the community confronting a crowd of Black youth. Gardner lifts his shirt to show a handgun tucked in his waistband which prompts two people to attack him, Scrulock joining in, all were unarmed. Eventually,Gardener shoots Scurlock in the clavicle, killing him almost instantly.
The Douglas County Attorney, Don Kleine, decided to not prosecute Gardener, stating that the armed, white man was acting in self defense against an unarmed, black man. Another heartbreaking, and yet predictable decision by a racist system that encourages white vigilante justice if it is directed against the Black community. However, on Wednesday, Kleine petitioned the district court to convene a grand jury with a special prosecutor to review the case. A small concession that has yet to allow immediate justice for James Scurlock and his family. Scurlock’s family is pushing for charges to be brought against Gardener, due to an expired concealed carry permit.
Since the shooting, people of Omaha are gathering at the site of Scurlock’smurder, standing in solidarity with his family and the Black community that has lost another young, Black man at the hands of white violence. In response to his death, Omaha has instituted a curfew and enlisted the support of the National Guard. The response will only lead to more violence against this marginalized community.
The downtown area is full of buildings boarded up with plywood, spray painted with, “His Name is James.” We now must add his name to the list of men and women taken too soon. During international protests against police brutality and violence in the Black community, a life was unjustly taken.