No curfew in Lincoln this weekend; Mayor reflects on past week

Published: Jun. 5, 2020 at 4:30 PM CDT
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Unlike Omaha, the City of Lincoln has decided against a weekend of curfews.

During a news conference Friday, Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird talked about why she decided to implement a curfew last Sunday and Monday, and why it may not have been a good idea.

"On Sunday, when I made the decision to institute a curfew in Lincoln, I believed at the time, it would prevent an escalation of violence and destruction in our city," said the Mayor. "I believed that many of the peaceful protesters would continue to use their voices and accept the curfew, allowing us to keep them safe from harm by the bad actors taking advantage of this moment to cause violence and destruction. As a white person, my lens on the world prevented me from recognizing how the use of curfew could foster mistrust and increased tensions.”

The Mayor acknowledged that on the first night of the curfew, both protesters and law enforcement felt threatened and suffered injuries.

"In the days since, law enforcement, the peaceful protesters and I have learned and evolved," Gaylor Baird said.

The Mayor said the goal is for protesters to feel heard and remain safe.

The Mayor has attended several Black Lives Matter rallies this week. She said she's witnessed organizers display grace and leadership by calling for peace.

"There is a way forward for our community. Each of us must listen, learn and act," said Gaylor Baird.

Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister said that LPD is committed to a robust review of policies on an annual basis, and as case law or other legislation changes.

"This is an opportunity going forward, to take an even deeper dive looking at it from a new perspective to apply these concepts to our existing policies, procedures, training and quality assistance measures," Chief Bliemeister said.

He added that each time there's a use of control, there's a complex review process that takes place. This process is there to allow for transparency on the appropriate use of force.

Chief Bliemeister said he has hope an optimism since the last few nights, the BLM rallies have remained peaceful.

"I know that we have had a strong relationship in our community between the police and the community...but I know, as do our staff, this is another staff to strengthen those relationships, and you have my commitment on that going forward," Chief Bliemeister said.

According to the Mayor, in the coming days Lincoln officials will be taking a number of steps to strengthen accountability and address concerns. Officials will review the use of force policies, and re-examine the rules on the Citizen Police Advisory Board to help increase the accessibility of the platform.

The Mayor announced that officials will be partnering with community leaders, elected leaders and residents to create listening sessions. The Mayor hopes these sessions will help reduce racial inequity throughout the community. The next event will be on Friday, June 12 via Zoom. More details on upcoming listening sessions will be released soon.

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