ProBLAC, City of Omaha reach settlement agreement on march lawsuit

(Omaha, NE) -- A settlement agreement has been filed in a lawsuit that was brought by civil rights activist group ProBLAC against the City of Omaha for the handling of a march on Farnam Street last summer.

According to a joint release from the city and ACLU of Nebraska, if the settlement is accepted by the court, it would end the pending civil rights lawsuit and change enforcement tactics used during protests for at least the next two years. "The parties wish to thank one another for negotiating this settlement which is their mutual interests and will ultimately benefit the entire community."

Under the terms of the settlement, the city and OPolice Department would dismiss pending charges against anyone at the Farnam Street protest march in July and ProBLAC members would withdraw claims of excessive force and unlawful arrest. The agreement also establishes conduct rules for future protests. "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."

“From the start, our plaintiffs’ goals were to defend their rights and protect future protests. This agreement achieves meaningful progress on both fronts.” - ACLU of Nebraska Legal Director Adam Sipple

In the settlement, Omaha Police have agreed to ensure that all OPD personnel are properly trained regarding First Amendment rights and practices as well as any new revisions. OPD will be also trained on new and old practices regarding the use of chemical agents, wearing proper police identification and verbally responding to those wanting to know their name and badge numbers. According to the release, "The agreement also requires two public annual reports that will address OPD compliance with its terms, including details on deployment of chemical agents."

"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

The agreement follows a court mediation process that began Dec. 7.

(Photo by WOWT 6 News)

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