Lincoln Police arrest 53 people overnight, more arson and vandalism from protests turned riots
It was a weekend of violent protests in the Capital City, some describing Lincoln as a war zone as protesters clashed with law enforcement for three nights.
On Sunday around 11:30 p.m. LPD went to a report of fire at Huntington Elementary School. Officers said a couple of people passing by saw a small fire on the west side of school. Responding officers were able to put it out with their feet. LPD said another fire started in a classroom, at this point it looks like the carpet is damaged and it doesn't appear anything else caught fire. LPD estimates the damage to be around $3,000. Investigators believe someone broke a window to start the fire.
Then on Monday around 3:15 a.m. officers discovered a fire burning under a marked police cruiser parked outside the Northeast substation. LPD said officers were able to drive the patrol car away from flames and put out the fire with an extinguisher. Police also discovered remains of a glass bottle suspected to have been used to start the fire. Investigators said the cruiser had damage to the driver's side window after someone attempted to break it. Police said there was also damage on door pillar and undercarriage. Investigators estimate the damage at roughly $2,000. LPD said the patrol cruiser is at a garage and crews are working to fix it.
LPD said they are continuing to investigate and believe these two arsons may be linked because of their proximity.
A third fire is being investigated, this one happened on Sunday around 11:30 p.m. where officers were dispatched on a report of arson at Bethany Library. A witness told police they saw flames coming from a broken window. LPD said they saw a fire and used an extinguisher. Investigators said something was thrown into the building to break the window and start the fire.
Officers said they're looking to see if this third fire is connected to the other two from this weekend.
A number of businesses near the City-County Building are using plywood to board up broken windows.
Yellow caution tape and orange mesh fencing are also being used by downtown businesses to block people from the damage.
LPD said the vandalism is being investigated in connection to the demonstrations that happened Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
The Lancaster County Sheriff's Office said eight to 10 windows were broken by projectiles or paint balls at the City-County Building. LSO is working on getting an estimate on the damage.
Sunday night about 53 arrests were made because individuals were not following the 8 p.m. curfew that was established by city leaders.
Law enforcement said a majority of the people arrested weren't protesters. They said those people arrived with hard hats, water bottles, and more. Law enforcement believes they were preparing for a riot not a protest.
LSO said Molotov cocktails and fireworks were thrown during the protests. LSO said deputies were hit but they do not believe they were injured by fireworks.
A deputy had a cut on his knee and was treated at an area hospital, then released, according to LSO.
Deputies said their big concern was a fire while fireworks were thrown. LSO said the City-County Building would have been impacted had it not been for officers.
"This was pretty unprecedented. I've been in this business, haven't seen this level of violence toward government facilities. I worry about the safety of officers and deputies. I worry about the safety of the protesters, fights between protesters on Saturday, ones that wanted to remain peaceful and ones who didn't. A challenging and bewildering time," said Sheriff Terry Wagner.