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Occupy Lincoln cleared out in early-morning police raid

By   /   May 2, 2012  /   16 Comments

A 22-year-old Lincoln man was arrested and another man expelled from the mall in front of the state capitol early today, as 45 Lincoln police officers emerged at 4 a.m. and cleared out the last two protesters who remained after a 202-day campout on the cement and grass mall.

Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln student Jeff Eggerss said he was arrested as he tried to videotape the police operation. He spent about an hour-and-a-half in jail before posting $50 bail. Public Safety Director Tom Casady said Eggerss was arrested for failing to comply with a lawful order – because the city had notified the campers they had to leave by May 1.

Mayor Chris Beutler watched the operation, which he described as uneventful. The protesters said police also had a helicopter and canine unit. The Occupy Lincoln “general assembly” agreed in February to leave the space by May 1.

Within a half hour, the operation was over – but the protesters say things didn’t go nearly as smoothly as city officials say. They claim they were lied to by city officials repeatedly in the last few months, so they went to a press conference the mayor held this morning to talk about the operation.

About 10 members of Occupy Lincoln sat along the walls during Beutler’s press conference. As Beutler and other city officials talked about the police raid, the Occupy Lincoln folks made it clear they didn’t agree with the city’s version of events. One was tearful, another snorted in disgust, others murmured and one held a sign that said “Hey City, your true colors are showing.”

At one point, the mayor’s chief of staff, Rick Hoppe, told the Occupiers if they didn’t be quiet they’d have to leave. The Occupy Lincoln’s good relationship with the city was clearly destroyed even before 45 police officers started moving in formation across the mall this morning.

“We have treated this group as well or better as any occupation group in the entire country,” Beutler said. “We think it is fair to say we have bent over backwards to protect their rights.”

However, Occupy Lincoln member Dana Garrison, a college student, said after the press conference that the protesters were led to believe that if they left Centennial Mall they could go to a second location, at 30th and Capitol Parkway. However, they were evicted from that location on Tuesday.

She said the mayor’s chief of staff, Hoppe, attended every weekly Occupy Lincoln meeting for a month and pressured protesters into agreeing to leave by May 1. She said he gave them maps of public spaces where the group could set up a second camp primarily for the homeless people, but after that camp was set up, the mayor and other city officials came and said they had to leave. She said the mayor was apparently unaware of the deal Hoppe made with them because Beutler told them, “Are you people playing games with us? I thought we had a deal.”

During the press conference, Beutler called all that a misunderstanding.

“We don’t believe we made representations in either of those areas,” he said. “We could never agree to allow them to go from one place to another.”

Beutler said during the press conference that setting up camp near the residential area was “not in the best interests of the neighborhood or the homeless people themselves.”

Garrison said Police Chief Jim Peschong also said police wouldn’t come in force to expel them, but did. The Occupiers believe city officials did not like having Lincoln’s homeless population on display, rather than hidden away in corners.

The Centennial Mall grassy areas were surrounded by orange fencing Wednesday morning, and city officials now plan to enact legislation to close the legal loophole that allowed the protesters to be on the mall for so long. Beutler said legislation will be brought to the Lincoln City Council to provide “more appropriate venues” for free speech.

He said while the protesters have a right to the First Amendment through demonstration, they cannot obstruct access to public spaces by others.

“Free speech doesn’t mean you can build a house on the mall,” Beutler said. “We were caught with a law that had a gap in it and we fixed it.”

The council will be asked to amend portions of the municipal code defining parks to include areas being maintained and supervised by the parks department. Another section of the code on public spaces will be amended to restrict tents on public property.

A public hearing on the code changes will be held May 14, with the council expected to vote the following week, on May 31.

Reported by Deena Winter, deena@nebraskawatchdog.org.

By: TwitterButtons.com

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Deena Winter has been a journalist for over 20 years, writing stories for the Northwood Gleaner, Bismarck Tribune, Associated Press, Denver Post and Lincoln Journal Star before joining Watchdog.

  • Be honest

    It’s about time…if these guys spent half the effort looking for work and becoming a productive member of society that they spend looking for handouts and complaining that someone else has been more successful, we wouldn’t have the social issues that they are complaining about.

  • RuralTaxpayer

    “City officials now plan to enact legislation to close the legal loophole that allowed the protesters to be on the mall for so long.” This is EXACTLY what happens every single time that a “loophole” allows one person or a group of people to push the boundaries of what is considered normal and acceptable to the extreme . . . all BECAUSE they CAN!!!! So guess what??? Now you CAN’T . . . are you happy now? Are you going to get upset and scream discrimination because your actions have created a situation that leaves your protest with no viable place to go? A lot of common sense and a measure of courtesy may have gone a long way towards resolving the situation you are now in.

    The net result is that the actions of a few impact EVERYONE in the end, especially when it is negative! “Occupiers” want to be called the “99%”? How about we call them the “.005%” because their actions will result in punitive actions for the rest of the population in Lincoln . . . . the REAL “99.995%”. And the “99.995%” of Lincoln residents want to thank you by saying, “Congratulations!” All kinds of new rules, regulations and laws galore originally designed to stop situations like this will be stretched, bent and folded to apply to other situations not even remotely connected. That, folks, is what is called unintended consequences!

    And the most recent site is now vacated. WHO pays for the clean-up of trash and destruction left behind? Will it be the group who created the mess? Will it be the supporters of the “Occupy” movement? Or will it be the same people who ALWAYS have to pay . . . the taxpayers of Lincoln? I don’t even have to guess to answer that question! Again, another thank you from the “99.995%!”

    You know, “Occupiers” across the country could take a lesson from that “unmentionable” group who represents a growing segment of the conservative side of our country. There is NEVER a single piece of trash left after one of their events!!! They apply for and pay fees for lawful places to congregate, they don’t assault anyone necessitating a police presence, they abide by the rules and laws, and their organization is BASED upon a philosophy which says “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Of course, they are common folks who believe in responsibility and accountability . . . a mighty foreign concept these days it seems!

  • Awake in REALITY

    Wow, there are still narrow minded and egocentric peple in the world today, I have a full time job and I have a second job just to make ends meet, I AM a part of the Occupy Lincoln and Occupy Wall street movement, I support all the things they are trying to do and accomplish, Keep living in your dream world, thinking everything is ok, all you have to do is get a job and work hard and all will be well, I bet you obese beer drinkin smokin cigarette hill billy entitle puke too.

  • Emily

    You speak of “responsibility” and contributing to society. Well, when society is killing millions worldwide, and destroying our bodies and minds, to contribute to society means to assimilate into the death and slavery machine. My responsibility is to everyone, the earth they live on, and everything in between. My responsibility requires me to search for a job that doesn’t kill in the name of profits. These jobs are one in a million, and filled! So instead, I, like so many other Occupy Lincoln folk, volunteer nearly 50 hours + a week to the greater good in whatever way we can. We are civil servants, not beggars. We are retirees who spend their Golden Days serving causes with a heart. We are people who believe your responsibilities are for more than just yourself and your family.

    How can one justify hating Occupy Lincoln for new legislation with unintended consequences, when it’s your peers who voted the mayor and city council into being, and it’s those Tools who are creating these permanent ramifications? So THANK YOU! For wallowing in your apathy and attacking anyone in Nebraska who actually takes action. THANK YOU! For spending your time ignoring your neighbors and how your actions affect them; For spending your energy slaving away for the system or society cleverly designed to enslave us all into a monocultures race who values aesthetics over life and well being; and for every last item you spend your money on, promoting death, destruction and endless political influence and unintended consequences. Your ignorant daily purchases have provided a constant demand for the products of the corporations with hideous business ethics. your consumerism, created by your precious society, and a sick form of capitalist government are killing yourself. yet the apathy goes unwavering. THANK YOU! For forgetting what your heart sounds like and thinking with your money stimulated brain filled with other people’s ideas.

  • Allen Schreiber

    To both of the badly misinformed, ignorant, and venomously hateful posters above, Be Honest and Rural Taxpayer:

    Be Honest? You did NOT type one honest word in your post, just a lot of stereotypes and Fox News false propaganda and lies. The VAST majority of people who were in the Occupy encampment WERE and ARE STILL employed, often multiple jobs, some working part-time while attending school. Some of us were self-employed, others retired, but ALL OF US WERE THERE BY CHOICE IN ORDER TO HELP OUT THOSE LESS FORTUNATE THAN US WHILE AT THE SAME TIME VERY VISIBLY REMINDING OUR GOVERNMENT OF THE UGLY TRUTH WHICH IT SO DESPERATELY WANTS TO HIDE – THINGS ARE FAR WORSE OFF THAN THEY HAVE BEEN LYING TO US ABOUT! Corporations are NOT people and are NOT entitled to ANY of the rights a person is and that money does NOT equal Free Speech. The exception to who was Occupying was the small handful of Lincoln’s homeless who found a home and help navigating the Social Services safety net that is SO full of holes in Lincoln to find the services they were denied by the “system”. We offered them the one thing that people like you denied them repeatedly – treatment as fellow human beings with respect and dignity. The homeless living at Occupy Lincoln were not “druggies” or alcoholics. A few had mild mental health issues which the “system” said weren’t severe enough to warrant assistance, yet kept them from holding a steady job and those we helped to find providers for the services they needed. A few had health issues that we also helped them to find an agency or service provider to help them.

    The rest of the homeless were much like you or me – one paycheck away from disaster, one medical situation away from financial ruin – and don’t think it can’t happen to you, for you’re a truly the ignorant fool for thinking thus. ALL the rest of us had their own apartments and homes, some of us, myself included, own our own home free and clear. We provided laundry facilities and a place to shower to those of us living at the encampment. The reason there were so many “empty” tents down there during the day was because the people were off at class or at work, to return “home” to Occupy at night.

    One member of the Occupy Lincoln “family”, Tiny, was brought to us by LPD because they (the LPD officers who worked Centennial Mall) KNEW the good work we did with the homeless, and especially those with medical issues, in finding them the assistance that the extremely overwhelmed “excellent social safety net” as one clueless City Council member called it Monday night during open mic, is unable to provide. Funny thing about that City Council meeting open mic, after listening to many, many people, from OL and the population of Lincoln in general, and asking them questions back in response, when Tiny testified to the ACTUAL disaster that the “safety net” was, did ONE Councilperson ask him a single question as to what he thought could be done to improve the system or what additional services that could be provided? NO! They ignored him and tried to deny that there IS a homeless problem in Lincoln, to the tune of a couple of hundred people a night are sleeping in doorways, alleyways, hidden in the bushes and shrubbery downtown, in our parks, under the 27th St. pedestrian over pass (where one was randomly shoot while sleeping a few months ago) under the 27th St. overpass, under city bridges and railroad bridges along Salt Creek.

    Rural, your “nameless” organization is a major cause of the problem, and NOT part of the solution. Don’t even go there with your “holier than thou B. S., because all the trash at those rallies walked there and walked away. There is FAR too much photographic evidence of the blatant racism and hatred of your astroturf movement on the signs carried and words spoken at those rallies. Occupy was protecting YOUR 1st Amendment Rights until we were illegally evicted.

    The Tea Party, in all its various subnames, Tea Party Express, Tea Party Patriots, whatever, proved its close-minded and bigoted mind set repeatedly throughout the Occupation, both in its rabid verbal and written attacks against the movement and in its steadfast refusal to accept our multiple open invitations to come down to the encampment and engage in a civil, open and honest discourse and sharing of ideas and viewpoints. If ANY of you had, I think you would have found all of us to be just as patriotic in reality as you claim to be, and that we shared many, many common valid concerns about this country and its future. Unfortunately, all of you were so full of your own rhetoric, stereotypes and false beliefs that NONE of you ever accepted our open invitation to come on down and talk.

    What were you all so afraid of, that the TRUTH would remove the blinders from your eyes and set you free, that those in the Occupy movement are TRUE patriots, not a multi-billionare financed sham, as dissent is the truest form of patriotism? As for your “do unto others” biblical B.S., it was some self proclaimed Tea Partiers who drove by and threw a container of urine on a peaceful protester who was merely standing on the sidewalk holding a sign, so what does that say about your hypocrisy?

    And if you REALLY want to play that Biblical card so bad, for a group who claims to be so Christian, you act in such an unChrist-like manner towards those less fortunate than you. Where is the walk to back the talk when it comes to healing the sick, helping the poor and treating your fellow human beings in the same manner that you yourself would like to be treated? Non-existent! And yet you belittle and ridicule those who actually practice what you expound, but so utterly fail to do yourself, when it comes to our brothers and sisters. Totally disgusting.

    We started Occupy Education – where college instructors and professors volunteer to teach college level and GED classes to those who can not afford them, because an educated society is a productive society.

    We started Occupy the Food Supply, providing free plants and seeds and sometimes one of our Occupy members’ yard space, to start community gardens where those who cannot afford to feed their families nutritious fresh vegetables because while poor, they’re not poor enough to qualify for SNAP, or that program does not go far enough in their family food budget, and so we help to ensure that the children get healthy, fresh food to eat.

    So what have ANY of you pompous, self-righteous critics of Occupy, who listen only to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News’ distorted view of the world and accept it as the Gospel Truth, who really know NOTHING of what Occupy stands for or is doing, done for the BETTERMENT of your fellow human being? The silence is deafening, and tells it all.

    The worse part of it all, is that up until about ten years ago, I used to (disgustingly) be just like you “ditto heads”, until I used my God-given ability to think freely and accept that there could possibly be a change in the paradigm of how I viewed the world, and of what REALLY is important in life (hint: It’s NOT how much money or things you accrue, for you can take NONE of it with you when you die) is in helping the least among us, fighting injustice and corruption, ensuring that the powerful are not allowed to abuse that power and cause harm, ensuring that this planet is left in better shape for our children and grandchildren than it was left for us, so that ALL future generations can enjoy the bounty of the Eden we have with clean air to breathe and fresh water to drink and not fearing that we will be the instrument of our own destruction. Go back and read the Bible some time, in its entirety, starting at page one with “In the beginning…” We, too, are “common folks”, but with one big difference from you – we DON’T screw over our fellow human beings for things as trivial as money or power – we seek to reset the system back to where our government is accountable to We The People, NOT the CEO’s, Corporations, Wall Street, Fossil Fuels, Big Banks and all the others who have corrupted our government and bought our elected representatives. You are part of the problem, become part of the solution. Smaller Government is NOT the answer, ACCOUNTABLE Government to the People IS! Go Google “Move To Amend” and enlighten yourselves. Set your mind free and your body will follow!

  • people before profits

    one question I have is why the police had to have 40-50 officers, The K9 unit and a helicopter to arrest one occupier who was, at the time, trying to clear up the last tiny bit of the personal property there and go home. a little overkill if you ask me. Your tax dollar at work……Ask the city. Just how much did this little exercise cost them???

  • John

    Thanks, Allen Schreiber , Emily ,and all. Just so more total BS. Mr. Buffett is on your side. Why do you think that you have to protest at their meeting? Give me a break. LOL

  • Watching From Lincoln

    Yeah, Deena, did the Public Safety director come up with some sort of dollar figure of how much that early morning fiasco cost the City of Lincoln’s taxpayers, or was this a Federally orchestrated operation (the tactics and equipment used mirrors identically those employed to decamp OWS, Occupy Denver, Occupy Oakland, Seattle, D.C., et al. Perhaps the Feds were paying to once again squash any voice of dissent by the common folk as to how this country is being (mis)run?

  • http://none Roger Yant

    Hay Awake in reality, I’m a Tea Party guy and if I can remember I can’t recall that the police have had to break up or arrest any of us, you know why, I doubt it, we abide by the laws we have in this country. Try going to Iran, Egypt, China, Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan or any of those countries and try and pull that crap you did here, I’ll bet there would have been more action against you on the first day of your so called protest then you had last night. Most likely you would now be in a pine box. Gripe all you want, we live in the greatest country in the world, here you got to protest, and you are still alive. Thank God you are not in one of those other countries.

    Maybe if you would like to move there I will take up a collection and buy you a one way ticket to one of them. Well I’m going to take my obese butt and drink some beer , smoke A cigarette with my hill-billy brother.

  • people before profits

    I saw on the news that the city said it cost them 2K. Really? for overtime for 45 officers, the K9 unit and the helicopter? Really? i suspect that the national gvmt had a hand in this. homeland security wasting the taxpayers money. That is the outrage. if the cops had waited 5 minutes there would have been noone to arrest. bet they had to hurry when they saw everyone leaving.. hahahahaha. The mall was 98% broom clean and free of debris by the evening of the 1st, in compliance with the agreement made between the city and OL. the OL ppl kept their promise. the public works dept certainly did something wasteful and stupid in my opinion.

  • Occupier And Proud of It

    It does not matter what activist group you belong to, or not, the fact is simple, we have the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech PERIOD! How patriotic is it to applaud peaceful protesters being beaten and pepper sprayed? How patriotic is it applaud a City government that makes laws to circumvent our rights? All I know is, when the real Revolution begins, you better be ready!

  • Dana Garrison

    If anyone would like to contact me directly please do so. I have no problem defending my statements, as there were dozens of witnesses to all the things that happened. I only told the truth and many others could be asked what they saw and heard!

    This was not a protest. The two individuals who were there had a long day of removing items from the mall and were delayed in conversation with those who visited through out the night.

    If you dont see the lies this cities government can and will spin, you will when they infringe on you and your family.

  • Watching From Lincoln

    Gee, Roger Yant, you strike me more as being a Jonestown Kool-Aid kind of guy than a beer drinker. As far as your Tea Partyers not being arrested, well it would be awful embarrassing for your Tea Party Corporate Sponsors to have one subsidiary of the Corporation arresting another subsidiary, now wouldn’t it? See, we’re a totally independent outfit, without Corporate Sponsorship of any kind, so we’re beholden to nobody but ourselves, and that’s truly a very liberating feeling – REAL Freedom. In regards to protest in other countries versus here in the good ol’ US of A, if we had the same level of support here in the US as they had over there, instead of the total apathy of the lulled six-pack masses such as you, there would be a new government in place here by now. Didn’t you pay attention to what was really happening, and why and who was involved, and for what reasons, in the North African Arab countries during the Arab Spring, or were you content to suckle on the misinformation teat so readily provided to infantile minds by the Murdoch Corporate Propaganda Network known here as Fox News?

  • Watching From Lincoln

    Oh, and Roger, here is some information courtesy of CNN about your Corporate Billionaire Sponsors of your astroturf group the Tea Party, and also sponsors of Americans For Prosperity and ALEC too, the Koch brothers – Charles and David. Guess it tells a lot about a person by the company they keep. Really nice family, glad to see that the brothers didn’t fall very far from the tree, and you’re PROUD to associate with these people and espouse their ideals? I didn’t know that you were a Fascist at heart, Roger, and here I thought you believed in Democracy, or do you REALLY know what that word means?

    Here, copy and paste this URL to your browser:

    http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-500857

  • RuralTaxpayer

    Roger . . . I am with YOU, and it starting to look like only a very few brave conservatives venture onto this site!!! Perhaps WFL will answer the following question: Is there a different between a democracy and a republic?

    Here Ye, Here Ye . . . All Nebraskans far and wide: By the Order of the “powers that be,” it is official that CNN has been designated as the BEST and ONLY source of all news. It is unbiased, it is totally FREE of personal opinions, It does not make unseemly comments about anyone in government or politics, it is ALWAYS accurate – the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and it NEVER takes sides!!! It has the ONLY reliable news channel where the news people required to take a test to determine if they know the difference between reporting the news and hosting a talk show, AND they are REQUIRED to take a pledge to put their job BEFORE their personal loyalty to the party they support. Cancel your cable because you are wasting your money on all those other stations!!! In fact, I am quite sure that the order has been given to just close them all down so you aren’t even tempted to check out the competition!!!! AMEN and pass the potatoes!!!

  • http://none Roger Yant

    Hay WFL, CNN better known as the Communist News Network is your source of information, no wonder you have s..t for brains. Has anyone ever mentioned George Soros to you? Mummmm? He is supporting your cause you know. Bill Gates,Warren Buffet the tax cheat and many other leftist rich folks in Hollywood. We just have the Koch Bros. Get a …… life and go to work and be a productive member of our GREAT COUNTRY!!!!

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