Final group that protested near Native American sweat lodge site in Lincoln is fined $25 per offense
LINCOLN — Four protesters arrested for demonstrating about a housing development across the road from a site of Native American sweat lodge ceremonies will pay fines of $25 each.
On Friday, after the completion of trials for the protesters and rejecting motions to drop the charges, Lancaster County Judge Timothy Phillips ordered fines of $25 each for obstruction of a public roadway and disobeying orders to disperse from police, plus court costs.
The four were among six demonstrators cited in February as bulldozers moved in to begin leveling trees and land at the Wilderness Crossing housing development, along U.S. Highway 77 in southwest Lincoln.
The 75-acre site sits right across a gravel road, 1st Street, from a decades-old location for sweat lodge ceremonies. The site is a rural residence known as the “Fish Farm.”
Protesters maintained that the housing development would disrupt the ceremonies, and that the City of Lincoln hadn’t followed proper procedures in approving the development.
They maintained that the process disregarded and disrespected Native American traditions and ceremonies.
Erin Poor, 34, and Wyatt Nelson, 29, both of Lincoln, were fined $25 each for blocking a public roadway and refusing orders from police, plus $86 each in court costs.
Louis Braatz III, 43, and Delan Lonowski, 47, both of Lincoln, were fined $25 each, plus $50 each in court costs, for trespassing. They had earlier been found not guilty of disobeying a police order to disperse.
Two protesters who agreed to plead no contests to their two charges, Margaret Vrana and Monica Usasz, both of Lincoln, earlier were fined $50 each.
A civil lawsuit objecting to the process used to approve the Wilderness Crossing development is still pending.
Court records indicate that a possible out-of-court settlement is being discussed by the plaintiffs in that civil lawsuit, which include Poor and the Indian Center of Lincoln. The defendants include the Lincoln Board of Zoning Appeals and the City of Lincoln.