NewsLocal News


Native Americans demand Mayor's advisory council

This comes after the death of Zachery Bearheels
Posted at 4:08 PM, Nov 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-28 19:16:52-05

About a dozen protesters accuse the city of Omaha of not following through on its effort to reach out to the Native American community after the in-custody death of Zachary Bearheels.

Mayor Jean Stothert announced the creation of an advisory board in July as police announced training changes after Bearheel's death.

A Grand Jury is now looking into the death. Former Omaha police officer Scotty Payne is charged with second-degree assault-a felony.

Ryan McClarty is charged with third-degree assault-a misdemeanor.

Still protesters say not enough is being done as they want the female officers involved in the case charged as well.

“We are still watching, we're advocating for justice for Mr. Bearheels case,” said protester John Pappan.

They were not allowed into the hearing because by Nebraska law, Grand Juries meet in secret.

But their frustrations stem from a larger issue-they want mayor Jean Stothert to create the Native American advisory committee she promised 5 months ago.

“Should have been in place in one week-nobody knows nothing about that,” said Frank LaMere of the Winnebago tribe. 

“Nothing is being done-we're just being neglected and overlooked,” said Pappan.

So the demonstrators walked over to the mayor's office and demanded a meeting.

After about a half-hour meeting with the mayor's Chief of Staff, Marty Bilek, both sides came out with a better understanding on how to go forward.

“We reached out and  volunteers weren’t calling us back so we were concerned about the level of interest but certainly from today's meeting we felt that there is interest,” said Bilek.

‘I think that we can build good communication through the establishment of the advisory committee and i said the immediate steps are being taken in that regard,” commented LaMere.

The committee's focus would be on job creation, suicide prevention, youth programs and economic development among an array of issues within the Native American community.

“If I had to ask Santa, please let's have the advisory committee council that would be a great Christmas gift that the Mayor could give us,” said Pappan.

Stothert had meetings all day and could not meet with them in person.

There’s a meeting scheduled for next week and the number of people who will sit on the advisory committee has not been decided.