Protect our Vulnerable Neighbors

In 2017, Zachary Bear Heels found himself lost and alone in Omaha. He struggled with mental illness. He needed a helping hand. Instead, he suffered brutality at the hands of Omaha Police in an encounter that took his life. And today, three of the officers involved remain with the department.

We honor Zachary's life by calling for justice. We must address the systemic failures that allowed this to happen. We must make our communities safer for everyone and address the disproportionate harm police brutality causes people of color, especially those who are Native, Black or Latinx.

With the Lincoln Indian Center Inc. and the Indigenous People of Nebraska, we are proud to issue this call to action.

To Governor Ricketts and Nebraska State Senators, In memory of Zachary Bear Heels, we urge you to support the following legislative actions to increase police accountability and make our state safer for everyone. 1. Ban TASER use against the mentally ill and other vulnerable populations and require further limitations that reflect TASER use is lethal force. 2. Remove disciplinary and investigative procedures for all law enforcement from the scope of collective bargaining. 3. Increase funding for mental health services so when our neighbors need care, they are met with a public health response not a criminal justice response. 4. Ensure strong oversight and transparency for all deaths at the hands of law enforcement, including funding for an independent prosecutor and independent autopsy. We urge you to take these actions, along with other necessary police reforms advocates are calling for, to increase police accountability and protect public safety. We need you to lead. We need you to act. We need you to make sure this does not happen again in Nebraska.