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By Yolanda Spivey
KETV News Watch 7 is reporting that two solicitors in Omaha, Nebraska were arrested for selling magazines door to door.
The solicitors, Simon Mitchell and Gregory Jones who happens to be Black, were in the predominately White neighborhood on 172nd and Valley streets, when homeowners alerted police that they were in the neighborhood selling magazines.
It was discovered that the two men did not have a license to solicit, and because neither one of them had ties to Omaha, they were taken into custody. They were both booked on “misdemeanor peddler violations.”
Homeowners in the neighborhood had been complaining for months—they didn’t want to see the solicitors in their neighborhood. They claim that most of the solicitors that frequent the neighborhood and knocked on their doors were aggressive.
One homeowner who did not want to be identified told KETV News, “This is harassment.” She claims that the solicitors follow her when she takes walks. She is so afraid, she doesn’t let her children out to play in the neighborhood for fear they may be followed as well.
The local police department in Douglas County told KETV that they’ve been getting an influx of calls regarding the solicitors since September.
Mark Roberts, a homeowner told KETV, “the neighborhood has a well-organized email list, and as soon as a homeowner sees solicitors, they will alert the entire neighborhood.” He further stated, “When you ask them, (the solicitors), for ID or peddler’s licenses, they start to hand you paperwork that really doesn’t mean anything.”
Officer James Shade of the Omaha police told KETV, “Omaha’s not going to put up with aggressive tactics from sales persons. If they don’t have a permit to sell or peddle in Omaha, they will be arrested for those offenses.”
Police are encouraging other neighborhoods to also adapt to using a mass email list. They also encourage homeowners to get a “good description of the peddlers” and to call 911 right away–or just don’t answer their door at all.
An unidentified Black woman told Your Black World, “This is a blatant example of racial profiling. These were all Black youths in a predominately white part of Omaha. Had they been white girl scouts or boy scouts, this never would have happened.”