Ricketts Says Violence Detracts From Real Issues Behind Protests

June 1, 2020, 6:13 p.m. ·

Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks Monday (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)

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Governor Pete Ricketts Monday condemned violence as detracting from the real issue of equal justice for minorities, and urged Nebraskans to obey curfews in Lincoln and Omaha.

The governor struck a somber note in condemning violence he said was committed by a small number of people protesting police violence against people of color. “Over the last several days we have seen a level of disruption and chaos in Omaha and Lincoln that we haven’t seen in recent memory. What has started out as peaceful protest has been hijacked by people who want to cause harm in Lincoln and Omaha,” Ricketts said.

Ricketts said the protests are legitimate.

“The protests are about the very real issues that face minority communities with regard to equal access to justice, and how they are treated by law enforcement. And the case of George Floyd highlights this,” he said.

But he said acts of violence committed by a small minority of protestors detract from the important subject.

“What we saw this weekend, with the violence, loss of live and property destruction only takes away and detracts from the memory of George Floyd, and the cause of trying to achieve that equal access. This weekend has been a terrible one here in Nebraska with the violence that we’ve seen. And I want everyone to know that my administration will continue to work with minority communities on how we can make progress toward a more equal and just society,” he said.

Ricketts acknowledged the decision by Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine not to charge a white bar owner who shot a black demonstrator in what he said was self-defense had made the situation more tense.

“Don Klein is a well-respected prosecutor. He’s respected in the law community in both Omaha and here in Lincoln. I’ve worked with Don for the last five and half years. And while this is certainly not my area of expertise, if Don Kleine believes he cannot bring charges at this time, I believe him,” the governor said.

Ricketts was asked if he agreed with President Trump that governors have not been tough enough with protestors. Ricketts said his administration has worked with local officials and police chiefs.

“I believe the plans that the chiefs have put together with support of the Nebraska State Patrol and the National Guard have been appropriate,” he said.

And as Omaha and Lincoln, braced for another night of protests, Ricketts had this advice for residents:

“Please folks, go home tonight. Protest peacefully and go home before the curfews,” he said. Those curfews were set to begin at 8 pm in Omaha and 9 p.m. in Lincoln Monday night.