POLICE CHIEF: Shots fired at Hall of Justice during weekend protests
Lincoln's police chief said shots were fired at the Hall of Justice at some point during the violence that followed protests over the death of George Floyd last week.
Lincoln’s police chief said shots were fired at the Hall of Justice at some point during the violence that followed protests over the death of George Floyd last week.
A contingent of law enforcement officers in riot gear stood outside the building, taking a hail of rocks, bottles filled with gasoline, fireworks, razor blades, and – according to Chief Jeff Bliemeister on Friday – bullets.
“When our cops are standing out there on the line trying to do their job… and we know that rounds are going over the top,” Bliemeister said.
Bliemeister condemned the violence that led to 24 officers suffering injuries this past weekend. The most extreme will require at least one officer to undergo reconstructive surgery, he said.
Bliemeister said he thinks the Lincoln Police Department has a “great relationship” with the community, and says they’re tasked with preventing violence in that community – and working to find a balance in doing so.
“Our cops are being put in harms way in order to do that,” he said.
Bliemeister says the department has received support in the form of emails and food in recent days.
Officer Luke Bonkiewicz said, despite the violence, the mood of most officers is “very resolute.” He says Lincoln’s officers are horrified at the actions of those in Minneapolis involved in Floyd’s death.
“Yes, we are tired, we are working long hours, we have, as the chief said, we have sustained numerous injuries,” he said. “But as I walk the halls and talk to officers, one of the things that keeps coming up is ‘Yes, absolutely, let’s hold those officers accountable.'”
Bonkiewicz says he thinks LPD needs to continue engaging with the community. Several members of the department, including Bonkiewicz and Chief Bliemeister, met with black community leaders earlier this week at the Malone Center to discuss an accountability program for the department.
“We understand that this is momentum time of change in our country,” he said. “This is why we put on the badge.”