Around 200 protesters from the Omaha metro area stood along Washington Street in Papillion Thursday evening to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
Nic Caberos of Papillion said he organized the protest after realizing there was a need in the community for a safe space to speak his mind. After seeing the turnout from a Papillion protest on Tuesday, he knew others wanted to get involved as well.
“Papillion is made up of a majority of white people who want to do something but don’t know how to do it, don’t know the place to do it,” Caberos said. “They just needed a comfortable setting to have a voice.”
The primarily white protest ran from 6 to 8:30 p.m. It was peaceful, and Caberos said he doesn’t support police “agitators.”
Caberos said his main motivation to get involved was to call out police officers for using excessive force. He said they need more accountability, and he expressed these concerns to Papillion police when notifying them of the protest. He also scheduled an appointment to discuss the issue with Papillion Police Department Chief Scott Lions.
“We can’t have a riot every single time a police officer kills a black man,” Caberos said. “There has to be successful systemic change to unions and how our criminal justice system works.”
Papillon Police and Sarpy County Sheriff's Office deputies were present at the protest. Caberos said they were kind to protesters.
Caberos said that as a half-Hispanic man, he’s never experienced racism personally. He sees being half-white, as well as growing in Papillion, as privileges that allowed him to not be exposed to it.
He organized the protest not about himself, he said, but to support the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Jeremy Williams of Lincoln was among the other protesters at the event. He said after seeing riots in the news, he was reluctant to protest. Eventually, he attended a demonstration in Lincoln, and after seeing how peaceful it was, he was inspired him to come out again in Papillion, his hometown.
Williams said this protest isn’t only for George Floyd, but for everyone who has experienced racism like he has. While working in Lincoln as a ride-share driver, Williams, who is black, said people told him he “didn’t belong in the neighborhood” and bashed his car. Since then, he’s been speaking up about racism to push for change.
That change he’s seeking, Williams said, is black people being able to live life freely without the fear of getting targeted, including by police. He hopes police officers will speak up when witnessing racism and hate crimes, as well as look at diverse groups of people as people.
“We know that they're not all bad,” Williams said. “I want them to know that we do love them and we stand with them too, and hopefully they're standing with us.”
Lily Hybner, 16, came from Bellevue with her family. Hybner, who’s white, said people with a different skin color shouldn’t have to fight for equality and safety.
“I want to just use my privilege to come out here and support what they should just have in the world,” Hybner said. “I hope that someday in my lifetime, really soon hopefully, I can see a world where everyone can live in harmony.”