Seward GOP chair arrested

Trooper punched during abortion debate at Capitol


Seward resident Danna Seevers, 56, was among six people arrested May 19 at the Nebraska State Capitol during a debate on LB 574, which legislators ultimately passed, restricting abortion and gender-affirming care in Nebraska.

Seevers is chair of the Seward County Nebraska Republicans organization and was attending the debate as a proponent of the bill, which bans abortions at 12 weeks of pregnancy and gender-altering surgeries in those under 19 years old.

According to the Nebraska State Patrol, multiple people in the balcony filled with opponents of the bill inside the legislative chamber began yelling around 2:40 p.m. Two individuals then threw objects – reportedly used feminine hygiene products – over the balcony rail onto the legislative floor where senators were debating the bill.

Those individuals, Lucia Salinas, 24, of Omaha, and Maghie Miller-Jenkins, 36, of Lincoln, were arrested for obstructing a government operation and disturbing the peace. Mar Lee, 25, of Lincoln, was arrested for disturbing the peace and trespassing after yelling repeatedly and refusing law enforcement orders to leave the balcony.

Presiding officer of the legislature Lt. Gov. Joe Kelly ordered both the opponents’ and proponents’ balconies be cleared for the rest of the debate, but Seevers refused to leave after the State Patrol repeated the orders. She was arrested for disobeying a lawful order.

Approximately 45 minutes later, a trooper arrested Benjamin Buras, 40, of Lincoln for resisting arrest and trespassing. The trooper observed Buras intentionally preventing a legislative sergeant at arms from opening a door at the back of the chamber.

Buras was told to leave the area, then to vacate the Capitol, but he did not comply. Buras resisted arrest and a second trooper arrived to assist.

As the troopers were attempting to take Buras into custody, a woman approached and tried to push past another trooper. The trooper held her back, at which time the woman punched the trooper in the chest. The woman, Sara Crawford, 33, of Lincoln, was immediately taken into custody for obstructing a peace officer.

At least 10 troopers can be seen on video of the incident, either assisting with arrests or keeping the crowd back.

All six of those arrested were lodged in the Lancaster County Jail.

The bill passed on a 33-15 vote, with Dist. 24 Sen. Jana Hughes voting in favor.

The bill bans abortions at 12 weeks gestation and bans gender-altering surgeries for minors under age 19. The bill gives Nebraska’s chief medical officer the authority to decide on other gender therapies. That officer is appointed by the governor.

The bill includes exceptions for ectopic pregnancies, rape, incest or medical emergencies that would harm the mother, though the language is vague on what constitutes a medical emergency. An emergency must be defined in writing by a doctor, and violation of the bill could result in a doctor losing their license.

Proponents of the bill say it will protect the rights of unborn children and prevent minors from making decisions about gender they aren’t mature enough to make until they’re adults.

Opponents say the abortion ban will make it more difficult for doctors to act in situations where the mother’s life is at-risk and that restricting access to gender-affirming care adds more stress to transgender children already struggling with their identities and may lead to higher rates of teen suicide.

Gov. Jim Pillen’s office said he is expected to sign the bill as early as this week, though opponents have already threatened lawsuits.