Alabama's gotten me so upsetBACK IN 1964, jazz great Nina Simone recorded a scathing indictment of the state of "all men were created equal" in these United States, premised on the reality then that things were bad lots of places, worse yet in Alabama, and in Mississippi . . . goddam!
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam
This is a show tune
But the show hasn't been written for it, yet
Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day's gonna be my last
Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don't belong here
I don't belong there
I've even stopped believing in prayer
WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT -- for all my city's present-day, all-American problems involving issues of race and class -- that some 19-year-old, liquored-up punk, new to the big city from the hinterlands of South Dakota, would cause people to think "Omaha . . . goddam!" But that's the tragic tale in today's Omaha World-Herald, with the county attorney saying the drunk punk had something terrible in common with the worst Kluxer monsters from Mississippi, 1964:
Kyle Bormann dressed in camouflage, hoisted his hunting rifle and homed in on Brittany Williams for one reason, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said today.HOW MANY have marched, have sat in, have been set upon by police dogs and fire hoses? How many have been jailed and beaten?
The color of her skin.
Kleine said today that Bormann's own words — and the circumstances of the shooting — point to the Jan. 20 slaying of Williams, a 21-year-old black woman and pre-nursing student, as being race-based.
In formally charging Bormann this morning with first-degree murder and weapon use, Kleine filed notice of his intent to offer an aggravating circumstance that could lead to the death penalty.
The alleged aggravator: that Bormann's choosing of Williams "manifested exceptional depravity by ordinary standards of morality and intelligence."
"This was no accident," Kleine said. "When something senseless like this happens, you have to ask yourself, 'What is it that made this person do this?' That (explanation) comes right out of his mouth."
Bormann's attorney, John J. Kohl, has said he isn't aware of any evidence that suggests his client was racist or racially motivated.
Prosecutors say Bormann, 19, admitted to parking his car about 100 yards away and shooting Williams as she waited in the drive-through lane of the Kentucky Fried Chicken/Long John Silver's restaurant, 7601 N. 30th St. The restaurant is two miles down 30th Street from Bormann's father's Ponca Hills house.
When Bormann was arrested shortly after the shooting, Kleine said, the first words that came out of Bormann's mouth referred to black people.
Bormann, who had been drinking, mentioned being upset with the officiating in the New York Giants-Green Bay Packers NFC Championship game, Kleine said.
Bormann said something about the officiating favoring the black players, Kleine said.
In a later interview at Central Police Headquarters, Bormann also described being "pissed" at black people but gave no specifics, Kleine said.
Kleine acknowledged that some of Bormann's comments in the interview were contradictory.
At times, Kleine said, Bormann denied being racist or shooting Williams based on her race.
And several minutes after admitting to the shooting, he denied having shot her at all, Kleine said.
He said the avid hunter also described himself as a good shot.
"We cannot and will not tolerate or ignore the evil of racial prejudice," Kleine said in prepared remarks. "We will honor Brittany Williams' life and the lives of all victims of violent crime by seeking justice and doing everything within our power to prevent these acts of violence borne of these disturbing and unimaginable thoughts."
Morris, Williams' friend, noted that Williams was killed on the night before Martin Luther King Day. Morris, Williams and other members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, a mostly African-American sorority, had planned to observe the holiday by volunteering to paint at a local nonprofit organization.
"All I can say is Brittany's family is grieving," Morris said. "This is going to make it more painful again, to think that their baby was killed because she was black."
In the decades-long fight against hatred, segregation and racism in America, how many have been martyred in the hope that what happened to Brittany Williams in Omaha last week would be banished from our national makeup forever? But, according to the local prosecutor, it hasn't.
Not here, at least. And probably not anywhere else, either.
Now, a 21-year-old woman -- one with her whole bright future ahead of her -- has been added to the hallowed roster of America's civil-rights martyrs. And all she wanted was some KFC.
The struggle continues. May God's mercy be upon us all.