Monday, August 8, 2022

Witnesses Claim Rushed Investigation Overlooked Signs of Black Protester’s Killer’s Racist Past

James Scurlock - b&w
James Scurlock / Photo: @shannonrwatts/Twitter

*Today, Yahoo News published an exclusive story outlining how witnesses to the fatal shooting of James Scurlock, a Black protester in Omaha, claim that a rushed investigation overlooked signs of his killer, white bar owner Jake Gardner’s racist past.

The quick decision not to file charges in the context of this shooting was viewed by many in the community as an example of the ingrained racism within the criminal justice system that has been the subject of nationwide protests, including the one Scurlock had participated in the night he was killed.

In addition to several witnesses who said they made repeated attempts to provide police with crucial information in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Yahoo News spoke to more than half a dozen people, including former employees and patrons of Gardner’s bar, the Hive, who gave firsthand accounts of racist comments and discriminatory policies they say Gardner used. Two family members also offered unique insight into the unabashedly racist culture in which, they say, Gardner was raised.

MORE NEWS: Hermene D. Hartman: Do Blacks Lives Matter to Blacks Too?

James Scurlock - Facebook
James Scurlock – Facebook

Highlights from the exclusive interviews include:

  • One of Gardner’s relatives’ initial reaction to the news that Gardner would not be charged: “Whatever happened, if they let him go that quickly, they are not looking at all at the rest of it.”
  • Alayna Melendez, 19, who first jumped on Gardner in an attempt to disarm him: “Nobody talked to me after [referring to police who responded to the shooting]. They didn’t try to talk to anybody at the scene.”
  • Jim Morrison, a local DJ who previously worked for Gardner at the Hive DJing and hosting karaoke: “You’d see white guys go in there with T-shirts and stuff, and then a black guy dressed almost the same would walk up right behind him and they’d push him out the door…There was definitely discrimination going on in there.”
  • James Scurlock’s brother A.D. Swolley told Yahoo News that he and James had been subjected to Gardner’s seemingly arbitrary dress code on a number of occasions.
  • Robert Bradshaw, who previously worked as a barback at the Hive: Bradshaw, who is Black,  said he did not truly believe Gardner was racist until he asked him directly. “Are you racist?” His former boss turned around and, with a smile, lifted his hand with his thumb and forefinger slightly separated to gesture “a little bit” and said, “I might be.”
  • Another relative of Gardners described the overall environment and family that Jake was raised in was “an absolutely steaming, giant pot of racism.” “When I saw those videos, I thought, ‘God, I wish the whole world knew what I knew about this guy,’” she said of Jake’s father, arguing that the presence of David Gardner at the scene of the shooting was “really significant.”
  • Derek Stephens, a local bartender who said he heard a man he would later learn was Gardner’s father, David, yelling racial slurs and antagonizing protesters outside Gardner’s bars shortly before the shooting took place: “We weren’t given any phone numbers, any badge numbers, absolutely nothing…“I tried to call and contact a bunch of numbers on Sunday, and I got no response. I figured, OK, it’s not a weekday. I’ll call back tomorrow,” said Stephens. “I spent a solid four hours on Monday trying to call.”

You can read the full story at Yahoo News.

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