Occupy Omaha protesters wait, in vain, for police


November 2nd, 2011

Omaha, NE – Close to one hundred people waited outside in downtown Omaha on a cold Tuesday night for police who never showed.

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The Occupy Omaha protesters have been standing against what supporters view as greed and corruption since their first march downtown on October 15th. Since then, they’ve set up tents and makeshift beds to “occupy” the city at three locations downtown. Yesterday, they got word Omaha police had, again, asked them to clear out – by 10pm.

Occupy Omaha kicked off its protest with a march downtown Oct. 15. (Photo by Robyn Wisch)

“Occupy Omaha’s been displaced twice and upon hearing this, we’re not going to take it anymore,” said Justin Tolston, who drove to Omaha from Lincoln, where he has been standing with the Occupy Lincoln protest. “We’re going to stand up and fight back.”

Both protests are in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street in New York, which has sprouted several similar demonstrations, and arrests, around the country.

“Once they realize that crushing this democratic process… will only increase the fever of the public to want to partake, and it will only grow and strengthen,” Tolston said. “So I encourage them to come down here and threaten to take away our constitutional right to freedom of speech… I dare them to, please, we’ll be here. We won’t go away.”

Tolston was one of about a half dozen of the protesters, who planned to stay put when police arrived and peacefully submit to arrest. The rest of the group planned to keep moving and marching, and disperse if asked. But, at about 11pm, after an hour of standing on the sidewalk, holding signs as cars drove by, occasionally honking horns in support, no police showed, although several cruisers drove by.

Lt. Darci Tierney, a spokesperson for the Omaha Police Department confirmed police told the protesters to vacate, saying they were occupying city property (the protesters are currently located in an empty lot at 24th St. and Farnam), and did not have a permit. Jim Morrison is one of the organizers of the officially leaderless movement. He said the group has made several attempts to attain a permit, and been unsuccessful.

“There have been several attempts to get a hold of Parks and Recreation to figure out what we can do as far as a permit, but none of that has been answered with any sort of information that we could possibly use to obtain that permit.”

Morrison said OPD has said they could likely obtain a permit to protest in Elmwood Park, but that would be unsuitable, he said, because the park is hardly visible to passing traffic.

The protesters will take their cause to the Omaha City Council at its next meeting on November 8th, Morrison said. For now, they will continue to “occupy” their ground downtown, while they can.

“We think this is probably a chess move,” Morrison said. “They’ve noticed that there’s a lot of people here, and they’re probably going to wait until there’s less people so it’s easier to disperse the crowd.”

“So our move from here is to try to keep as many people here, so we can stand our ground.”

5 Responses

  1. Observer says:

    Just drove by the site at about 0115 hrs. They were all nestled nicely in their camp across the street in a private lot that I am assuming they got permission to use. No one was still trying to occupy the Federal Reserve grounds. Good job guys! There was no need to make a scene. Keep it peaceful and law abiding. Once we start stepping over the law, then we are just radicals. We get the same exposure from the north side of the intersection as we did from the south, and 24th is a major thoroughfare for the downtown. Lets keep this strategic rather than merely offensive. It is our longevity that will get our movement noticed, not how many laws we can break or how stupid we look sitting in handcuffs!

    • Heather says:

      Quick correction: The lot was offered for use by Occupy Omaha by the owner of a nearby business (who was believed to own it), however it does belong to the City of Omaha. There have been reports that it was purchased for only a single dollar.

      Also, Occupy Omaha has never (to my knowledge) trespassed onto the Federal Reserve private property.

      • Heather is correct says:

        They also have 4 different bathrooms at their disposal, 3 of them available 24/7. I have been to the encampment and used several of them (while walking w others who also used these facilities). Reports of outdoor urination are a blatant lie. Perhaps these complaints originated with the FEDERAL RESERVE directly across the street, just a thought. This group is camping out in the snow while we are comfortable in our warm beds, I find it very difficult to believe they would risk the whole thing being raided by the police state just so they could take a whiz three minutes faster. Last night a US VETERAN was arrested standing in unity with this group, perhaps the public and media [discluding KVNO] could use some intelligence, and show this group some more respect and dignity. I’m appalled at the way other media is reporting on this.

  2. What's wrong with Elmwood? says:

    What is this about there not being enough exposure in Elmwood Park? According to the maps I am looking at, it goes up to the south side of Dodge St! How is the main thoroughfare that divides the entire city not enough exposure?!

  3. Elmwood isn't the point says:

    The group has been moved four different times. The city refuses to issue a 24 hour permit, but refuses to stop threats. This group has been quiet for long enough- Occupy Omaha, stand your ground!

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