Douglas County establishes free-speech zone for expected protests |

Douglas County establishes free-speech zone for expected protests

Kurt Hildebrand /
The free-speech zones are in gold. In the red area there is no public access. The white area is public parking. The blue area is media staging.

Preparations are underway for demonstrations planned  after last week’s conflict between Douglas County’s librarian and sheriff over a diversity statement.

On Monday, the county released a map of areas set aside for demonstrators and media around the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center in Minden.

Protests are expected between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday, according to the county.

“Our office has openly encouraged every group to exercise their rights in a peaceful manner without reservation,” said Sheriff Dan Coverley. “Our office has spoken with representatives from interested parties to discuss differences and build confidence that attendees want a peaceful event with no harm to persons or property.“

According to the county, the sheriff’s office has been in contact with groups who’ve shown an interest in participating.

“I believe that everyone can actively voice their concerns with civility and the safety of our community, visitors and residents is and always has been our No. 1 priority,” said Coverley.

County spokeswoman Melissa Blosser said the sheriff’s office has established free-speech zones on either side of the office.

“We are asking people to prepare for a possible shortage of parking at the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center and to consider other options for parking,” she said. “We are asking the public to please move all motor vehicles by 6 a.m. Aug. 8 from Water Street.”

And area 8 feet around the main doors into the building will be blocked off. Blosser said the area will be clearly marked and the public won’t be allowed past the barricades.

“Douglas County officials would like to remind residents that public sentiment, comments and rumors on social media platforms are opinions and not the official source of information,” Blosser said. “Any information concerning this protest will receive official correspondence from county leaders on the official correspondence from county leaders on official Douglas County Sheriff’s Office or county letterhead.”

The sheriff’s office reported it is working proactively with Douglas County Emergency Management, county staff and elected officials to ensure the safety of Douglas County residents, visitors and businesses. There will also be active patrols though out Douglas County to protect business and residential areas.

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