More Protests Planned As Little Rock City Leaders Warn Of Outside Threats
More protests over police brutality and systemic racism are scheduled in Little Rock, with a memorial walk planned to begin at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Arkansas State Capitol.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday that he was spending time listening to the concerns of demonstrators and community leaders. One of those was a Little Rock artist who goes by Drekkia Writes.
"What’s happening with all the protests and the march, that’s an emotional reaction, an immediate reaction that will eventually die out. We’re here to give solutions long after people stop showing up at the Capitol," she said in an interview with KUAR News.
Leron McAdoo also met with the governor, saying a variety of concrete actions were suggested.
"We mentioned there needs to be a tracking system so that if a police officer is fired from one department, he can’t just go [to another]. He’s fired from North Little Rock, then he goes to Sherwood. He’s fired from Sherwood, then he goes to Cabot. We need to have a database, at least on the state level," McAdoo said
Both activists say they promote non-violence in the demonstrations they organize and do not condone the use of violence.
"The bad apples? They’re a part of the bunch," Writes said, "but I cannot and will not focus on them or allow what they do to overshadow what we are trying to do."
McAdoo added, "The only thing we are trying to destroy is a racist mindset or discriminatory system."
On Tuesday, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. moved the start time for the city’s curfew to 8 p.m., saying threats of outside agitators warranted the action. A day earlier, he instituted a curfew that began at 10 p.m., lasting until 5 a.m., citing intelligence that had been gathered.
"We ask, we urge, please abide by the curfew," Scott said. "We understand you can exercise your First Amendment right, and we honor that and we respect that, but for those who will come from outside our city and for those that are choosing to damage property, we will handle it."
Scott spoke alongside Police Chief Keith Humphrey during a press conference Tuesday afternoon. As it began, a demonstration was taking place three blocks away blocking the intersection of 3rd Street and Broadway. Scott said police had been speaking with the demonstrators about reopening the busy intersection, which had been closed for three hours. By the time the press conference was over, 28 of the protesters had been arrested and traffic was again flowing through the area.
Scott noted that demonstration had been peaceful, but said there are paid "professional" demonstrators in the area whose goal is to instigate violence.
"There are those that are from outside forces who have every intent and mission to destroy and destruct property and cause chaos in the City of Little Rock," Scott said. "We have no room for anyone coming to our city to destroy and destruct."
Chief Humphrey said threats had been made against local officials, prompting the response from the city.
"Leaders in our city and state in central Arkansas have been targeted for possible attacks against their lives," Humphrey said. "There have been credible threats against their lives, and so we’re taking this serious."
Later that evening, protesters walked through the city to the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion, defying the curfew. The demonstration remained peaceful there, with Arkansas state troopers watching as the group chanted before eventually leaving.
Police detained some protesters, as well as credentialed members of the media, before letting them go. That prompted a response from the Arkansas Press Association, a nonprofit which advocates on behalf of basic freedoms of the press, speech and the Freedom of Information Act.
Working, credentialed journalists have been detained and threatened with arrest while attempting to lawfully report on tonight’s protests. The APA condemns these actions and calls on authorities to put a stop to these dangerous tactics that undermine the freedom of the press.— Arkansas Press Association (@ARPressAssoc) June 3, 2020