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Omaha protests: 'Overwhelming majority' of protesters want peace, OPD says

 An Omaha Police kneels with protesters Monday, June 1, 2020, in the Old Market area of downtown Omaha. OPD Deputy Chief Ken Kanger said police asked protest leaders that if both sides took a knee, that protesters would comply with the order and leave peacefully. (WOWT)
An Omaha Police kneels with protesters Monday, June 1, 2020, in the Old Market area of downtown Omaha. OPD Deputy Chief Ken Kanger said police asked protest leaders that if both sides took a knee, that protesters would comply with the order and leave peacefully. (WOWT) (WOWT)
Published: Jun. 1, 2020 at 3:59 PM CDT
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A few moments of peaceful hugs returned to exclamatory chants across the protest line about an hour ahead of Monday night's curfew.

Omaha Police Deputy Chief Ken Kanger was cautiously optimistic around 9 p.m., noting that the night wasn't over.

"We had some compliance with the mayor's order at 8 o'clock," he said.

Kanger said there was a lot of communication happening, and gestures of goodwill from the officers.

"It was strong that the officers took a knee with them," he said. "...Sometimes they think because we don't take a knee, that we're not understanding or that we don't agree that what happened in Minneapolis was inappropriate; but we also understand that we have a job to do."

He noted that OPD Police Chief Todd Schmaderer "came out strong against what happened in Minneapolis."

Kanger said police spoke with organizers around 8 p.m. and said OPD asked that if both sides took a knee, protesters would comply with the order and leave peacefully.

"There was a group that really wanted to leave, and some that refused to leave," he said.

WARNING: Some videos paired with this article, which may at times include livestream coverage, contain explicit language.

Some pepper ball was used on protesters, Kanger said.

OPD also made two gun-related arrests, and maybe a dozen or more arrests, he said.

"There was a lot of emotion today," he said. "There were some folks in the crowd that had tears in their eyes."

The protesters asked to march, Kanger said. Sometimes the perception is that the police are trying to control the group, but that's not the case, he said.

Assembling in the afternoon

On alert for Omaha's second day of its imposed 8 p.m. curfew, particularly after the announcement that

, National Guard was visibly present in the Old Market area of downtown Monday afternoon, handing out bottles of water to a group of protesters gathered outside the barricaded area.

Ahead of the Guard's arrival in the afternoon, demonstrators were shouting at Omaha Police, but later cheered as the National Guard takes off their guns and helmets and put them in their vehicles.

Several area cities impose curfew

Bellevue, Gretna, La Vista, Papillion, and Springfield announced 8 p.m. curfews that aligned with Omaha's.

In Lincoln,

on Monday.

Businesses close ahead of possible protests

Several businesses around the Omaha-metro closed their doors hours ahead of the 8 p.m. curfew. In Village Point, boards were placed to protect storefronts.

Nebraska Crossing posted on its Facebook Page at about 2:30 p.m. that it would be closed the rest of the day: "After speaking with the Sarpy County Police Department, as a precautionary measure and to ensure the safety of our employees and customers, we are closing for the day effective immediately." [

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Children's Hospital also announced Monday afternoon it would close its Village Point urgent care office closed this evening. In a tweet, they said that if your child has an urgent health need or emergency to go to Children's Emergency Department. [

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TARA IS LIVE: Protesters chanting, kneeling

Check in with Tara Campbell WOWT for a recap on what the downtown protest scene looks like.

Posted by WOWT 6 News on Monday, June 1, 2020
LIVE: Protest in downtown Omaha

As the 8 p.m. curfew approaches, protesters are chanting at National Guard and Omaha Police.

Posted by WOWT 6 News on Monday, June 1, 2020

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