Four days after around 250 protesters marched peacefully in Norfolk, a crowd again gathered at the corner of 13th Street and Norfolk Avenue on Wednesday night for a “Black Lives Matter” protest.
The organizers of Wednesday night’s protest — Scheccid Martinez and April American Horse, both of Norfolk – said they were unsure what to expect for Wednesday night’s gathering, which comes on the heels of James Scurlock’s death during protests in Omaha.
As they did Saturday night, Norfolk police officers again were patrolling the area to make sure the protests remained peaceful. Two officers were stationed in front of businesses in the immediate vicinity. Parking lots also were taped off, preventing protesters from using the lots.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine announced Wednesday that he would petition the Douglas County District Court to appoint a special prosecutor and convene a grand jury to review whether charges should be brought against Jake Gardner, the former owner of The Hive and Gatsby bars at 12th and Harney streets in Omaha.
At the same time, Kleine said, he has seen additional evidence since Sunday, when he reviewed several videos and witness statements. None of what he saw would change his decision that Gardner was acting in self-defense, Kleine said.
“There have been a few things that have come in that actually, that probably (support) the nature of the decision that we made,” Kleine said. “Just enhanced or made that (decision) even more strong.”
That said, Kleine added: “I certainly believe in transparency and have no problem with any oversight about (our) decisions ... I welcome and support the calling of a grand jury to review evidence in this rare instance.”
Afterward, Scurlock’s father, James Scurlock II, thanked the community, especially black Omahans, for forcing the issue. And he thanked Kleine for listening.
Several people pushed for a grand jury after Kleine said Monday that he didn’t think one was necessary. Folks even started inquiring about petitioning for a grand jury, a move that would have required about 20,000 signatures.
“I want to thank the black community for getting us this grand jury — the pressure (from) everybody,” Scurlock said.
State Sen. Justin Wayne, an attorney for the Scurlocks, said it wasn’t just the black community.
“The outpours, the calls, the emails, were huge in this matter,” he said. “And the reason it was huge in this matter is we are still having witnesses, videos and evidence coming forward. I think that played a role in this decision and, as we get a more clear picture, justice will be served for James.”
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Editor's note: The World-Herald News Service contributed to this story.