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Black leaders, activists say city council is not supporting Black community with new appointee

Posted at 10:14 PM, Jan 04, 2021

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Just eight days before she is sworn in, Colleen Brennan is the topic of conversation amongst Omaha’s Black leaders and activists.

Brennan, who was selected by the Omaha City Council to fill the seat of councilman Rich Pahls as he leaves for the state legislature, has come under fire for a blog post in which she made statements about the Black community that many said played into offensive stereotypes.

The conversation, hosted by NOISE and community activist Ja Keen Fox, focused on how Brennan was selected to fill the council seat. Many say the City Council failed to do proper vetting of the Democrat and that the process should have been more public.

Democratic Black Caucus Chair Precious McKesson says she doesn’t want to drag Brennan, but is not happy with the way that Brennan has refused to take responsibility for the post. McKesson and others worry Brennan's words reflect the attitude she will bring into policy making.

“We no longer give passes saying, ‘It will be okay, lets see how they do when they get in there,'" McKesson said. "Your actions and what you do leading up to you being a public servant, we need to be looking at that. Because that tells us what your character is.”

Also coming under fire is North Omaha’s representative, Councilman Ben Gray, who has been outspoken about his support of Brennan.

During the conversation, several said Gray has changed during his time on the council and is no longer representing his constituents.

“Where was Ben Gray during the Scurlocks, where is Ben Gray during Kenneth Jones, where is Ben Gray during Mike Brown?" said Qasim Shabazz Asad, co-founder of the Black Agenda Alliance. "He’s shown who’s side he’s on.”

There has been a movement for Brennan to step down, but she has said still plans to take the position and run in the spring for District 5, when all seven council seats open.

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