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Omaha police revise policy following mass protester arrest

August 26, 2020 GMT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Omaha police have revised a policy on arresting protesters following the mass arrest of more than 100 peaceful protesters last month, the city’s mayor said.

Mayor Jean Stothert unveiled the policy change during a news conference Tuesday to discuss coronavirus relief funding, the Omaha World-Herald reported. Stothert said the revised policy requires officers to use body cameras to get pictures of each individual they arrest rather than doing mass arrests.

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“They have to tell exactly what that person did that violated the law,” Stothert said. “They’re going to be much more detailed with their reports now. And I think that that is a real positive thing that we have learned and are making policy changes with.”

The mass arrest on July 25 was criticized not only because protesters were peaceful, but because those arrested were crowded into cells — with most held overnight and well into the next day — at an already crowded jail plagued by a COVID-19 outbreak.

The Omaha City Prosecutor has pursued charges against only about 30 of the 120 people detained in the mass arrest.

Questioned about the mass arrest on Tuesday, Stothert said police made the arrests because they believed it had the potential to become violent. Civil rights advocates have said may have violated protesters’ constitutional rights.