The Omaha Police Department is ready just in case there is a situation similar to the one that happened in Charlottesville here. Captain Scott Gray says First Amendment rights guarantee freedom of speech and expression but there are limitations when it comes to public safety.
Captain Gray says, “In 2007 and 2008, we had groups from the National Socialist Movement come and the key to all of this is we established contact with them early, whoever their leader is and work out details they would be mutually agreeable so we can do this in a safe manner. We had defined areas for each group and a buffer zone in between so there wasn’t direct conflict. That worked out very well.”
Captain Gray is it is costly to have these events held in the city. He says it is a big expense for police agencies and time consuming. He says it takes a lot of personnel because you never know who will show up. Captain Gray says, “Because a certain group is going to show up, sometimes there are fringe elements to those groups that are kind of wild cards and you don’t know what is going to happen either on the left or the right.”
In Omaha, permits are not needed if people gather on public sidewalks or other public space. Permits are needed for marches or parades. There is a park use fee if there are more than 200 people gathering for an event.