Protest in Lincoln turns violent overnight

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George Floyd Protest

A firework explodes between protesters and police the EZ GO gas station at 25th and O streets during a protest that turned into looting early Saturday morning, following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis.

Peaceful protests in Lincoln and Omaha over the death of of a Minneapolis man at the hands of police there both turned violent overnight.

Lincoln Police and Nebraska State Patrol troopers in riot gear used rubber bullets and tear gas on a crowd that gathered near 27th and O streets in Lincoln in what started as a peaceful protest over the death of George Floyd, who died earlier this week after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes.

The overnight protest, which included perhaps 200 people at 2 p.m., turned violent when a window was broken at the EZ Go Store at 25th and O streets.

The relatively few officers who were on the scene and monitoring the protesters from a distance at that time grew to a force by 3:30 p.m., many now equipped with riot gear.

Protesters were seen inside the convenience store, where looting was reported, and damage was reported to another business, the MetroPCS at 27th and O.

In a Tweet posted at about 5 a.m., the Lincoln Police Department noted that the gathering is “no longer a peaceful protest.”

“Arrests have been made and will continue to be made for those who continue to break the law. Neighbors in the area please shelter in place.”

In an on-scene briefing, Chief Jeff Bliemeister asked people not to come to the area, and he told people already there to go home.

The crowd mostly broke up as more light crept into the morning sky.

The scene in Lincoln was similar to those all over the country as people vented their frustration over what they see as poor treatment of minorities by police. Protests that started in the Minneapolis area spread to several large cities.

In Omaha, the World-Herald reported that police used tear gas Friday to disperse hundreds of people who blocked one of the city’s busiest intersections and smashed windows of an empty furniture store after a peaceful gathering earlier in the evening.

Video from KETV showed Omaha police trying to push protesters out of the intersection and explosions of tear gas at the intersection of 72nd and Dodge streets. Some protesters said they had been hit by rubber bullets.

The overnight protest in Lincoln was in stark contrast to ones that took place Friday at the State Capitol and near 27th Street and Capitol Parkway.

On Friday morning, about a dozen protesters joined state Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, who called Floyd’s death “a cold-blooded murder; an execution.”

Bliemeister on Friday said the death of Floyd had fractured not only the relationship between Minneapolis residents and their police department, “but potentially every police-community relationship in the country.”

Gov. Pete Ricketts, Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and former Lincoln Public Safety Director Tom Casady also condemned the Minneapolis incident.

This is a developing story. Stay with JournalStar.com for updates.

Ricketts, Lincoln chief condemn police action in death of George Floyd

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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