The Nebraska chapter of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both a part of Everytown for Gun Safety, today released the following statement following reports that James Scurlock, a 22-year-old Black man, was shot and killed outside of an Omaha bar while protesting police violence following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said Monday that Scurlock’s alleged shooter, the white bar owner, will not face charges at this time.
“At every turn, gun violence continues to shake our communities,” said Sarah Pope, a volunteer leader with the Nebraska chapter of Moms Demand Action. “James Scurlock should be alive today — and so should George Floyd and the other Black Americans whose unacceptable killings he was protesting when he was killed. We stand with our partners around the city who have been at the forefront of this work for decades to create safer communities for all Nebraskans.”
“This type of violence isn’t new,” said Jayden Speed, a volunteer leader with Nebraska Students Demand Action. “James Scurlock wasn’t killed in an isolated incident – he was killed while protesting the injustices and systemic racism that fuel the gun violence and police brutality that continues to take the lives of Black Americans.”
As a whole, gun violence takes a disproportionate toll on Black and brown communities. Black Americans represent the majority of homicide and nonfatal shooting victims in the U.S. and are far more likely than white Americans to be victimized by and exposed to assaultive gun violence.
At the time of the shooting, Scurlock was taking part in a protest of the disproportionate impact of shootings by police and use of force on Black Americans. Black Americans are far more likely to be shot and killed by law enforcement than their white counterparts. And data from The Guardian shows that most people killed by police are killed with guns. According to the Washington Post, Black Americans are shot and killed by police at more than twice the rate of white Americans, and 24 people have been fatally shot by on-duty police since 2015 in Nebraska.
Research finds that meaningful use of force policies reduce police shootings. By encouraging de-escalation, utilizing early intervention systems, and ensuring that officers who act in a manner that is criminally negligent can be held accountable, use of force policies can ensure that laws help advance safety and promote trust in the police.