Three Occupy Omaha protesters arrested


November 3rd, 2011


Three Occupy Omaha protesters were arrested early Thursday morning, after Omaha police officers cleared out their protest site – an empty parking lot on 24th St. and Farnam.

In a statement, Omaha Police Department spokesperson Lt. Darci Tierney said officers arrived at 4:00am, and announced, repeating the message three times over a loudspeaker, that protesters are trespassing on city property and will be arrested if they did not vacate. Police had warned the protesters previously they would be evicted if they didn’t leave.

Tierney said nine people were there at the time. Initially, seven people agreed to leave, and two people refused. Those two, Kathryn Heil, 28, and Nathaniel Davis, 31, both of Omaha, were arrested and booked at Douglas County Corrections. A third person, Benjamin Walden, 23, also of Omaha, was arrested later, after protesters called in others to help remove some of the property on the lot. Walden sat in the middle of the lot, and refused to leave. He was also booked at DCC. Tierney says seven tents, and a number of mattresses and chairs were also removed from the site.

Protesters have been camping out at the location for several weeks, as part of an occupation protesting what they view as government corruption and policies geared toward the wealthiest Americans. The peaceful eviction and arrests come after violent clashes between police and Occupy protesters in Oakland, California.

November 2, 2011

Omaha, NE – The Occupy Omaha protesters have been told to vacate their current occupation downtown, but the city and the demonstrators have yet to agree on an alternative location.

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“I want to be very clear,” Aida Amoura, a spokesperson for Mayor Jim Suttle, announced to reporters Tuesday. “The city of Omaha is not picking locations or coordinating protester events. Our job is only to safely manage events of this nature, and we are doing what we can to work with Occupy Omaha members to allow them to exercise their First Amendment rights.”

Occupy Omaha has set up a protest site in an empty lot on 24th St. and Farnam. (Photo credit Nebraska Watchdog)

“We are not stopping anybody from free speech in this city,” Amoura said.

The city called the press conference to respond to the problem of where to locate the Occupy Omaha protesters. The group has set up with tents and camp fires in an open lot on 24th Street and Farnam downtown. The protest, which is in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street in New York and similar demonstrations around the country, originally set up its “occupation” at Gene Leahy Mall. The group then moved to 18th and Farnam before setting up at the current spot on 24th.

“The area at 24th and Farnam is being used as a camp site,” said Todd Schmaderer, the Deputy Chief of the Omaha Police Department. Schmaderer said the department is receiving complaints almost daily from local businesses in the area about open burning and public urination.

“It is city property, and one would need a permit or permission from the city to occupy that lot,” Schmaderer said, “neither of which has been asked for or granted. Our goal is to work with the occupiers at 24th and Farnam to find a reasonable and diplomatic solution.”

But protesters say they’ve made several attempts to obtain a permit from the city, and have been largely ignored. And that’s where some of the confusion comes in. Amoura said the city was approached by someone, who she declined to identify, requesting a permit for the group for Elmwood Park. But protesters say they never wanted to move to Elmwood Park because it’s not visible to city traffic.

“It’s not going to be suitable. We’ve already discussed that and agreed upon as a group that would not be a suitable location for us to relocate,” Jim Morrison, one of the organizers of the officially leaderless group, told KVNO News.

“We had suggested Memorial Park or Gene Leahy,” Morrison said. “And we’re willing to negotiate with the Mayor’s office and with the Mayor to find a suitable location. But that just wouldn’t be acceptable.”

“Here’s part of the problem: there’s a lot of different people who are allegedly leaders of this group,” Amoura said. “So even though one person may say one thing, the only ones that have come here and approached us, and asked us, was for Elmwood Park.”

Amoura said the Elmwood Park permit has been granted to the anonymous requester – conditionally. The group would have to comply with regular park hours, pay a daily permit fee, and pay for liability insurance and porta-potties. Amoura also said they could request a waiver of some of those requirements from the city council. Morrison said the group expects to be on the council agenda next week, and will ask for permission for an alternative site, and a waiver of any permit fees.

For now, Schmaderer said the Omaha Police Department will hold off on demanding the protesters leave or face arrest – some protesters have said they will peacefully submit to arrests if necessary. Schmaderer said he hopes a solution can be found first.

“The conversations we’ve had with the group have been very cordial. They have tended to lend me to believe some compromise could be reached.”

“Yes, absolutely,” Morrison agreed. “We want it to be resolved in the most civil manner possible.”

5 Responses

  1. Elaine Wilkinson says:

    I’m not sure at what point in history a “protest” became permanent “camping out”, starting fires, and public urination…And these “protesters” are asking for donations and raising money via benefit shows – at the Slowdown at ten bucks a head! They don’t have a required city permit….If Omaha’s homeless population is not allowed to do this why are these people? I would sooner donate funds to the homeless, personally. This whole thing just annoys me most because there just seems to be no focus – just solidarity in … what? Eventually someone will come along with their own private agenda and tag it to the masses of people who have been doing these protests all over the country. Until then, protesting without focus other than “end corporate greed & get corporations out of government”….that’s not enough of a focus, people…it’s just whining.

  2. Jeff Gassen says:

    I’m not sure how getting corporate lobbying out of politics is “whining,” considering Senate Dems just wrote a bill overturning the influx of regulatory free corporate cash into the political sphere with the Citizen United decision. Also, I’m not sure if you’ve notice, but how many times did you hear income inequality mentioned on the news 3 months ago compared to now? All of the problems in this country, directly or indirectly, are linked to profiteering and ultimately corporate interest in the political system. How do they get their interest heard? Well 25.8 lobbyists per member of Congress is a good start. Billions of dollars, that’s a little better. The fact of the matter is, the U.S. has recently ranked dead last in quality of life based on income equality among 21 developed countries, in the last 32 years, the top 1%’s after tax income has gone up 275% compared to a mere 18% of the bottom 20%. We incarcerate more people than any other country in the world, could it possibly that our private prison population is up 28%, with private prison lobbying up 73%? Why Merck get away with killing tens of thousands with the Vioxx scandal, without anyone, other than Scott Reuben’s measely sentence, spending anytime in jail? Could it be the billions of dollars in healthcare lobbying by pharmaceutical companies? 68% of millionaires want their taxes raised, but it hasn’t happened. The majority of America wants marijuana legalized and taxed, but it hasn’t happened (despite the numerous medicinal benefits and the fact that it has never caused the death of a human while tobacco kills 450,000 annually). The majority of America was against the war in Iraq, but we didn’t pull out until we were pushed out. Why don’t the majority get what they want in a democracy? Lobbying.

    This is the lowest revenue the government’s operated on in 60 years, taxes are lower than under Reagan, de-regulation caused this mess, corporations are posting ALL TIME HIGH profits, yet all the GOP Presidential candidates want to talk about are STEEPER tax cuts for the richest in this country. Why? Lobbying.

    Goldman Sachs got $10 billion in TARP funds, after dishing out executive bonuses, they sent 1,000 jobs to Singapore. Last year after Nike posted a quarterly 14% increase in profit, they sent 400 more jobs to Indonesia. Yet despite these atrocities, the corporate personhood rhetoric and coining these greed, self-serving beaurocrats as “job-creators” is still prevalent. Why? Lobbying.

    If you think clamoring to end corporate greed and getting corporate money out of our politics is “whining,” maybe try paying attention.

  3. Elaine Wilkinson says:

    ^^^^ That’s exactly what I mean by no focus. Just…everything…right? Why not throw in a few more topics you’re upset about with no solutions for?

    Also, as far as the camping out thing…there is a good website that addresses those issues “intelligently”.

  4. Linda Duffie says:

    Um, Elaine, did you catch the word “lobby” or “lobbying” used in Jim’s comment? Even once? Do you realize that corporations can now donate an unlimited amount of $$$ to any politician and/or candidate and it’s legal? Because of this corporations (aka their top management, aka the 1%) have boatloads of money to lobby/pressure/ persuade/bribe/whatever to whoever they want. The average citizen cannot compete with this. So no voice. And so the Occupy movement. Hope this clears up your confusion.

  5. Judith Weidner says:

    Um,Duffie, did you catch your word “confusion”? You seem to have loads of it starting with you percentages. We won’t even mention the process by which you intend to initiate your change. Reducing yourself to peeing in the parking lot seems, well, like someone I would not care to know or emulate in any way. It cerainly doesn’t make me sympathetic to your cause. There’s a process by which one can successfully bring about change and it doesn’t include offensive behavior or impeding others as they try to make their living. Yours is a selfish and debasing behavior. When the embryonic fluid drys behind your ears and your brain fully developes maybe you’ll realize this. Don’t you know what George Soros calls people like you?! Useful idiots. Go home. Start your own business that helps other people.

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