Protesters try to stop construction work on Lincoln housing development
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — A local Native American group was protesting Monday morning at the site of a housing development planned near Wilderness Park.
Protesters with the Niskithe Prayer Camp stood in front of machinery, trying to stop workers from tearing down trees.
“We came out here this morning to set up our tipi,” said Kevin Abourezk, a Niskithe member. “And wasn’t long, in fact, just as the tipi was going up, they started moving earth up there on top of Snell Hill.”
Lincoln Police officers were called to the scene. They negotiated with the two sides, and the work was stopped for the day.
After that, a construction vehicle came to the site. Three protesters tried to stop it.
The vehicle kept moving but eventually came to a stop, when one protester was still in front of it.
That man was detained by the police, cited for trespassing and released.
SEE ALSO: ‘We’re going to continue to fight this’: Native group in legal battle with City of Lincoln
Last week, a judge dismissed a lawsuit by the City of Lincoln that sought to stop the activists’ appeal of the project.
The activists then expected a public hearing to be scheduled with the City Board of Zoning Appeals.
“We learned on Saturday that the board rejected the appeal,” Abourezk said.
Members of the Native American community in Lincoln have been protesting the development, as they say it would disrupt sacred ceremonies in the area.
“This place has been held as sacred and has been a cultural site and spiritual site for us, for our people, as they come here to heal,” said Renee SansSouci, a member of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska.
Last May, Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird approved the controversial housing development plan.
The developer, Wilderness Crossing LLC, purchased the land from the Catholic Diocese of Lincoln.
The LLC is registered to Sam Manzitto Jr. He is the president of Manzitto Construction.
Channel 8 tried to reach out to him but has not heard back.