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WATCH NOW: Lincoln Mall office building burned after protesters, police clash for second night
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WATCH NOW: Lincoln Mall office building burned after protesters, police clash for second night

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Early Morning Protest

Protesters raise their hands against law enforcement advancing along Lincoln Mall on Saturday night.

Peaceful protests eroded in Lincoln for the second night in a row, culminating with law enforcement officers advancing on protesters outside the County-City Building shortly after 1 a.m. on Sunday.

The clash between protesters and police heightened in the 11 o'clock hour on Saturday evening, as tear gas canisters were deployed on those in the crowd who lobbed objects, including fireworks, at law enforcement officers in riot gear.

The occasional volley of tear gas and rubber bullets continued well into Sunday morning. Across the street from the County-City Building, protesters broke windows at the Landmark Centre and adjacent office buildings on Lincoln Mall, even as they were chastised by other protesters.

Some in the crowd were seen entering the buildings, in some cases sparking fires that others in the crowd carrying fire extinguishers worked to douse.

It appeared at least one of the protesters at the County-City Building was taken into custody. Two of those carrying fire extinguishers were detained.

Hours after crowds dispersed, however, Lincoln firefighters were called to a fire at a multi-story insurance building at 601 S. 12th St.

Ricketts, Lincoln chief condemn police action in death of George Floyd

Saturday night's violence followed less than 24 hours after incidents on Saturday morning centered in the area of 27th and O streets.

This time, protesters on Saturday evening criss-crossed the city, embarking from the state Capitol, walking 3 miles east to 48th and R streets and back downtown.

For the most part, the protest was peaceful as police attempted to keep their distance, even as protesters numbering in the hundreds moved across the city on heavily traveled O Street.

Any sense of peaceful protest changed, however, as protesters and law enforcement clashed on the steps of the County-City Building in the 11 o'clock hour.

Hours earlier, Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister spoke to the group that first gathered at the Capitol on Saturday afternoon, again condemning the actions of police in Minneapolis that led to George Floyd's death earlier this week and sparked protests across the country.

On Saturday morning, Bliemeister joined city leaders in a call for calm.

Saturday's protest in Lincoln started before 7 p.m. at the Capitol and moved north, with protesters chanting "No justice, no peace" and slowing traffic as they marched.

They turned west on O Street, chanting "I can't breathe" and "Hands up, don't shoot," then turned south toward the County-City Building while walking into oncoming traffic on 10th Street.

As they marched, some protesters used spray paint on the street, barricades and light posts.

By 8:15, the protesters had marched past the Capitol again and returned to O Street heading east. After pausing, the march continued eastward and reached 27th and O streets by 8:30, blocking all four directions of the intersection.

Some in the group began handing out water bottles as the protesters reached 48th and O, with people in the crowd saying they were there for the long haul.

Matt Steger said he joined the protest after his employer, a restaurant on O Street, decided to close early on Saturday.

The Rev. Tremaine Combs of Mount Zion Baptist Church followed Saturday's protest after speaking to the group at the Capitol.

He said he was out Saturday evening to combat injustice and inequality among certain races. While concerned about destruction of property, he said he understands the resentment many are feeling.

WATCH NOW: City officials call for calm after protest in Lincoln turns violent overnight

Earlier, a seemingly peaceful protest that started Friday night turned violent after a vehicle hit someone standing on O Street, Lincoln police said.

The violence Saturday morning centered on EZ Go, a convenience store at 26th and O streets that sat dark and encircled by crime tape as protesters passed Saturday night.

Police reported eight injuries and nine incidents of vandalism linked to the Saturday morning protest. Within hours, city leaders organized a news conference to urge calm and peaceful protests.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7223 or nmcconnell@journalstar.com.

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