By Kamrin Baker
Early Tuesday afternoon, local Omaha Twitter feeds were abuzz with drama coming from the once-powerful independent news outlet, Mean Streets Omaha (@MeanStreetsOMA). All seven of the account’s contributing users announced their resignation from the account– effective immediately.
Mean Streets is known for its lightning fast news breaks of Omaha events, from car accidents and fires to public disputes and gun violence. It operates solely on citizen journalism and a handful of folks with access to a police scanner.
And then there was one.
Although the owner of the account is still anonymous, all seven resigning contributors made their identities known Tuesday, which were concealed when they operated behind the popular handle.
Photographer Dominic Brockhaus took photos for the account for about two years. He says the following Twitter users have stepped down from their posts at Mean Streets:
@DomVisuals (Brockhaus’s account)
Most of these users produced or shared a statement of resignation on Twitter Tuesday, the majority of them containing similar sentiments about how they were experiencing a difference in morals from @MeanStreetOMA’s owner.
“Myself and my colleagues left our posts at MeanStreets due to the creator and founder of the account posting extremely offensive and racist tweets,” Brockhaus says. “We tried to resolve the issue internally but the owner of the MeanStreets account was not willing to listen to us.”
Many followers of the account also expressed their disdain. “Mean streets of Omaha” was labeled as a popular topic on Twitter all throughout the day, and while some users championed the original account, most showed their support for the seven disbanding members.
While the follower count on the original account dwindled as the day went on, the team of seven has plans to create a new account that will better align with their values.
In his statement, Brockhaus says: “I believe Mean Streets Omaha should serve as a source of helpful information and news for Omaha, rather than an offensive Twitter page laden with profanity and insults, with limited information about what is really going on in our city. I hope that, moving forward, I’ll be able to be a part of a similar effort that will be able to serve the purpose of Mean Streets Omaha in a professional manner.”
Brockhaus also says that, because of the mass exodus of contributing users, he can only assume “there will be a noticeable change in the number and quality of tweets” from @MeanStreetsOMA.
As for the shattered illusion of the identities of these independent crime reporters, Brockhaus said “one of the biggest reasons for concealing our identities was to keep the sense of mystery that surrounded MeanStreets and keep the persona intact.”
While the persona is no longer what it used to be, Joel Schafer, another main contributor, says in a tweet that he has no animosity toward the founder of the account.
“We had a great run,” another of Schafer’s tweets says. “Thanks to everyone who came along for the ride.”