An elementary school teacher in Nebraska was the subject of what he described as a racist confrontation when he was out driving for Lyft.
Jeremy Williams drives for both Uber and Lyft during the summers when Lincoln Public Schools is out for vacation. On Friday, July 19, he was driving for the latter rideshare company and waiting to pick up his next rider in northeast Lincoln, Nebraska, that night. As he waited in the neighborhood, he told 1011 NOW a white pickup truck pulled up behind his red 2013 Chevrolet Equinox. Another car pulled up next to him.
“They were supposed to be my second pick-up for the night, at that point I’m just waiting in the circle,” the Zeman Elementary School teacher told the local news station Thursday, July 25.
Walking up to his window, a white male asked him, “What are you doing here?”
“I’m like, ‘I’m Lyft, I’m waiting on a Mike’ and he goes, ‘Well, you don’t look like you belong here,’” Williams aids.
Williams explained that’s when the man began hitting his car, which led the instructor to move his vehicle to the other side of the street to get away from the attack, but doing so did not stop it.
“That’s when they all got out of their cars and starting hitting the car and kicking the car,” Williams says. “I know at one point they were trying to open my car door.”
He drove off and called 911. Williams said the comments he recalls the attackers making about not belonging made him feel as if it was a racist assault. Lincoln Police Department, however, is not classifying the case as a hate crime. Investigators told the outlet they cannot issue charges for that or any crime solely based on Williams’ statement.
Later on, LPD Officer Angela Sands told the Lincoln-Journal Star police interviewed seven people who were in the cul-de-sac, where the alleged attack occurred. Some of those people were directly involved in the incident and others serve as witnesses. All of those interviewed were between 16 and 17 years old, the officer told the paper.
Those involved claimed they attacked in response to Williams, but the instructor denies that. He said the only action he made was to move in an attempt to get away from the alleged attackers, who left massive dents and scratches on his vehicle.
The investigation into the matter is ongoing Sands said authorities are looking over surveillance video from the cul-de-sac that may have caught the incident on tape. The hope, Sands said, is that police will come to a resolution by next week.
Colleague and fellow LPS employee Liz Wysong Hoffart is one of the people who launched a GoFundMe page to help pay for Williams’ insurance costs and other expenses related to the damage done to his vehicle. In three days, the campaign has surpassed its $1,500 goal.
Backing for Williams has also emerged online, with many expressing their support.
“I am very sorry this happened to you, and I hope justice is done. Best of luck!”
“Jeremy, you don’t know me, but I am angry and heartbroken that this happened to you.”
“We are all here for you Jerms!”
The support has warmed Williams’ heart.
“I moved down here two years ago to teach I knew that it was an amazing school district,” he told 10 11 NOW. “I’m finding out now it’s an amazingly close community and we’re not going to stand for hate here.”