LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — The ACLU of Nebraska and the Omaha City Attorney’s office released a joint statement on Thursday announcing that a settlement was reached in the federal lawsuit, ProBLAC v City of Omaha.
The lawsuit resulted from protests and subsequent arrests made on the Farnum Street bridge in July. OPD made dozens of arrests and said that protesters were blocking trafficking.
“From the start, our plaintiffs’ goals were to defend their rights and protect future protests. This agreement achieves meaningful progress on both fronts.” said ACLU of Nebraska Legal Director, Adam Sipple.
According to the release, the settlement outlines negotiated terms concerning the Omaha Police Department’s (OPD) response to First Amendment-protected activities.
"I am pleased we were able to reach an agreement and set a positive tone for the start of 2021. When common ground can be reached everyone benefits. I want to thank the legal teams, from both sides, for their dedicated work,” Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said.
The statement read:
“The parties wish to thank one another for negotiating this settlement which is their mutual interests and will ultimately benefit the entire community.
If accepted by the court, the agreement would end the pending civil rights lawsuit and establish enforceable terms for the next two years.
A copy of the settlement agreement is available online: aclunebraska.org
Under its terms, plaintiffs agree to dismiss claims for damages while defendants agree to dismiss pending charges for violation of Omaha City Code Sections 20-44 or 20-45 against any person present at the Farnam Street March. Defendants would also withdraw an appeal of a Douglas County Court judge’s determination that struck down the ordinances. Instead, the agreement introduces revised ordinances affording protesters more protection and requires a prompt and good faith effort to support their passage.
Additional terms relate to chemical agents, mass arrests, identification of officers and accessibility of policies. The agreement also requires two public annual reports that will address OPD compliance with its terms, including details on deployment of chemical agents.
The filing notes that all parties enter the agreement with the hope that it will help safeguard the constitutional rights of all members of the Omaha community and enhance officer and public safety."