The president of the Omaha Police Union favored tweets that justified violence towards the police and belittled protesters – The Reader
The Twitter profile of Tony Conner, President of the Omaha Police Officers’ Association.
Tony Conner, president of the Omaha Police Officers Association, fills his Twitter feed with posts about politics, police and protesters.
But the police union president, a 20-year-old OPD veteran whose organization represents the 902 sworn officers of the Omaha Police Department, “likes” tweets that use more graphic language.
“I don’t feel bad for criminals who are shot by the police. And you shouldn’t either, ”Conner read an article from August 27th.
“I’m tired of black people behaving like uncivilized animals,” read another on August 25. “Defense of sex offenders, child abusers, murderers, professional criminals … who are rightly being shot by the police.” The shitty communities, the highest crime rates, abortion rates, illiteracy rates, single parents … “
“After watching Jacob Blake’s footage, I have to say one thing. If you don’t listen to a police officer’s instructions, what happens to you is your fault. No matter what color your skin is, ”read another from August 24th.
A Twitter user shared screenshots of the police union president’s popular tweets, calling them “gross,” a tweet Conner himself liked.
bc its social media presence continues to be gross, here is a thread of tweets liked or retweeted by @opoapresident (President of the Omaha Police Officer Association). For extra fun, check out his page and add your own screenshots! pic.twitter.com/JnoUGjVGPC
– ts #defundOPD ???? ☭ (@anarchotrash) August 28, 2020
Conner did not respond to a request for comment.
Of other users’ tweets in August indicating or justifying violence, many came from an account owned by Damani Felder, a right-wing Twitter personality. All tweets about tension between protesters and police are as frequent as content about sports, local news, and posts from the Omaha Police Department and the Omaha Police Officers Association.
Some of the tweets also show protesters getting violent with police officers.
Conner was elected head of the Omaha Police Union in 2018. He is the first black president.
For Ja Keen Fox, who has been organizing protesters since the demonstrations began in late May, Conner’s social media activity is just another sign of the systemic problems that are encountering Omaha’s policing. Fox himself was called in by Stothert in July for his social media activities. The mayor drew attention to a July 2020 tweet from Fox recalling a Texan shooter who shot five Dallas police officers in 2016. she asked Fox to step down from its LGBTQIA + advisory board.
As union president, Conner has the power to negotiate police contracts with the city. Fox was on an advisory board. He wants to know if Conner meets the same standards.
“When you see a leader in this position who has this kind of power that supports this violence,” said Fox, “how can we expect reform when we see that this is the kind of advocacy that is going on in these negotiations ? “
The tweets come at a time of persistent tension over policing in Omaha. Protesters are still demonstrating in the streets, even after an attempt in the Omaha City Council to fund the OPD’s $ 161 million budget by $ 2 million failed. Police have also arrested hundreds of demonstrators en masse for breaking or failing to pay the curfew. The recent arrest of more than 120 people resulted in prolonged stays at the Douglas County Justice Department and allegations of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials
On August 26, Mayor Jean Stothert announced changes to the OPD’s policy on mass arrests. The new policy would require officials to take body camera recordings of anyone before they are arrested, she said. Stothert and OPD chief Todd Schmaderer also announced changes to OPD police policy in June, including a formal ban on knee-and-neck pins and an obligation for officials to move detainees from prone positions.
Fox said Conner should be held accountable for his social media activities. At the very least, Conner should get the same or a more accurate exam that Fox did. But as for the ramifications for the larger conversation about policing in Omaha, Fox said this only confirms what marginalized communities and those who have listened to them already know. Beyond that, it probably won’t do much, he said.
“This is passed on by people who care about black lives,” he said. “But if murder doesn’t make people speak out against police brutality, I don’t think a leader who represents the exact rhetoric used to shoot Jacob Blake seven times will change anything.”