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    8 anti-Trump protesters arrested during 'Make America Great Again' rally in downtown

    8 anti-Trump protesters arrested during 'Make America Great Again' rally in downtown Omaha

    By Mara Klecke
    Mar 25, 2017 Updated 29 min ago

    Omaha police arrested eight people and used pepper balls to disperse counter protesters at a “Make America Great Again” rally Saturday in front of the Douglas County Courthouse.

    The 2 p.m. rally drew about 100 people for what was billed as an event to support President Donald Trump, veterans, first responders and law enforcement.

    An estimated 50 counter protesters on hand were told to gather at the base of the stairs to the courthouse. A few minutes into the rally, another group about the same size wearing all black and concealing their faces — a tactic known as black bloc — marched past the rally. Many in that group were associated with the group Antifa Nebraska, which calls itself an anti-fascist organization.

    More than a dozen police officers, a few on horseback and others with bicycles, attempted to push that group back with a barricade of their bicycles, yelling “Get back!” Moments later, police fired pepper balls at the feet of the protesters, releasing a stinging gas. One woman fell to the ground, saying she’d been hit with one of the balls. Minutes later, she limped down stairs on the other side of the courthouse. Police called for an ambulance. No one was taken to a hospital.

    About a half-dozen protesters were pulled from the crowd by officers, some pushed to the ground and handcuffed.

    The people who were arrested were booked at Douglas County Jail on suspicion of crimes such as disorderly conduct, carrying a concealed weapon, unlawfully throwing fireworks and committing acts tending to incite a riot, a police spokesman said.

    Smoke in the area came from a smoke device deployed by an anti-Trump protester, the spokesman said.

    The commotion did not disrupt the rally. It continued even after the black bloc protesters were dispersed.

    Eris Koleszar, 31, didn’t agree with the use of pepper balls. She was among protesters standing at the base of the stairs before the group in black arrived.

    “The black bloc protesters are making a strong stance that is much needed,” she said. “But it definitely escalated with police as soon as they arrived.”

    Melynda Ream, 27, attended the rally as a Trump supporter and said she wished the rally hadn’t been disrupted.

    “It’s very upsetting that neither side can exercise freedom of speech peacefully right now.”

    Shayla McShannon, 36, also was at the rally to support Trump. She said she would have liked to have had the chance to talk with the protesters and felt bad for those who were not in the group wearing black.

    “I know police maybe couldn’t differentiate between who was causing a problem but all of the protesters lost their voice because of this,” she said. “Today was a perfect example of how divided we have all gotten.”

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    Antifa Clashes With Police In Omaha, Nebraska. (@KellyXOXO_02)
    1:27 PM - 25 Mar 2017

    Despite the disruption, Jon Tucker, chairman of the Douglas County Republican Party, said the rally was a success.

    “I’m just thankful that people showed up on a cold, rainy day,” Tucker said. “A lot of Trump supporters have felt silenced. I hope this was a way to feel heard too.”

    At a “Make America Great Again” rally on Saturday in Huntington Beach, California, a protester was tackled by Trump supporters after he used pepper spray on the crowd of hundreds of Trump supporters.

    Some supporters punched and kicked the protester, then chased the man as he ran off. The protester jumped over a fence and started running along the Pacific Coast Highway, where he was detained by California Highway Patrol officers.

    A planned “Rally for Democracy” at Turner Park in Omaha was canceled Saturday because of wet conditions. Organizers of that event were the Women’s March on Omaha, Indivisible Nebraskans and Suit Up Nebraska.
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    Why is it so hard for people to realize that no matter how much you disagree with any group of people, they retain the right to public assembly and deserve to conduct same without being interfered with by any other group of people. If people want to protest such a gathering, they also have every right to do so as long as they don't get physical or interfere with public speakers.

    The police should be encouraged to break up anyone who violates anyone's right to peaceably assemble.
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