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Pastor walks out of meeting with Gov. Ricketts

Posted at 10:49 AM, Jun 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 23:04:25-04


Pastor Jarrod Parker of St. Mark Baptist Church says the phrase stings every time he hears it.

"That term 'you people' separated black people from everybody else. It was a term that of course over the years has been a racist term and I'm kind of offended about people who say get over it. He didn't mean it that way -- yes he did, you had to have been in the room," he said.

Pastor Portia Cavitt of Claire Memorial United Methodist Church, who was also at the meeting, says the comments made her feel "demoralized and belittled."

It's the reason Parker posted a now viral video on social media following a meeting with Gov. Pete Ricketts, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer.

Parker tells 3 News Now, the governor responded using the phrase, "you people," after another pastor brought up safety concerns of the black community.

"[He said] where the hell were you guys when ... and then people stood up, people were protesting loudly, some of them ... and I was sitting next to them. That's when I heard the problem with you people is, or the problem I have with you people is," Parker said. "So that was the context of it and I'm not sure how it could've been repaired after that. Anything said after that in my opinion could not have been productive."

"What I heard was that that's the problem I have with you people," Cavitt said. "He did say 'you people,' I was stunned. Yes, there were preachers as well as community leaders that got up and walked out."

Cavitt says she was one of the few women in the room.

Cavitt says she didn't leave the meeting after the comment was made, but she says she would've appreciated a personal apology.

"I'm appalled that he even thought he had to go on the news to send his apology, I was in the room, you didn't apologize to me," Cavitt said.

The governor issued an apology via a statement after inquires were made by the media, in which he said "I chose my words poorly, and apologized when it became apparent that I had caused offense."

But Pastor Tony Sanders of Friends of Christ Church says he thinks the governor's words were taken out of context.

"It was then through passionate exchange that the governor moved to the edge of his seat and with passion countered the passion that he had received by saying where in the hell were you people when I was trying to pass LB 791," Sanders said.

The bill provides more transparency to wrong-doing by law enforcement officers.

But Cavitt says there's a bigger issue.

"It's not about what the governor said in calling us "you people," a young man lost his life and we are talking about black lives matter, this Douglas County attorney just told us that a black life did not matter," Cavitt said.

Parker says he hopes to move past the tense moment and have another conversation with Gov. Ricketts.

"Jesus taught reconciliation," Parker said. "So I'm always seeking to reconcile and that is my hope that we can come together again and get back at that table."


Pastor Jarrod Parker of Omaha's St. Mark Baptist Church took to Facebook on Monday evening, expressing outrage at a statement made by Gov. Pete Ricketts.

The pastor was with a group of other religious and community leaders meeting with the governor, Mayor Jean Stothert and Police Chief Todd Schmaderer to discuss ongoing tensions in Omaha in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the killing of a black protester by a bar owner in Omaha.

In his video, Pastor Jarrod said he walked out after the governor referred to the group of African American leaders as "you people".

Monday night, Gov. Ricketts issued a statement saying, "I chose my words poorly and apologized when it became apparent that I caused offense."

See the pastor's Facebook remarks in the video above.

Full interviews with Pastor Sanders, Pastor Cavitt and Pastor Parker:

Interview With Pastor Who Walked Out of Meeting With Ricketts
Interview With Pastor at Ricketts Meeting
Interview with Pastor Portia Cavitt of Clair Memorial United Methodist Church