Law enforcement arrested 79 people Tuesday night in Little Rock, the fourth consecutive night of protests against police brutality. The protest was one of many across the nation in response to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May.
Speaking during a news conference about the protests on Wednesday, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said while he wouldn’t be mayor without the work of peaceful protestors before him, as mayor, it’s his job to protect the city.
"It’s my first priority to protect the public health, safety and welfare of the city of Little Rock. That’s what we will do, and those that commit property damage and vandalism will be addressed," Scott said. Scott changed the city’s curfew to 8 p.m. on Tuesday night, a change from the 10 p.m. curfew Scott implemented on Monday. North Little Rock officials also implemented an 8 p.m. curfew Wednesday.
Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey said while many demonstrators complied with the new curfew, others did not.
"If you are abiding by the law and you’re in the assemblies earlier than the curfew, then we appreciate that. However, if you are not abiding by the law and you’re going past the curfew and you’re committing acts of destruction, there is a possibility that you are going to be arrested," Humphrey said. Speaking during a news conference earlier in the day, Gov. Asa Hutchinson spoke on not just the peaceful protests in Little Rock, but also on ones across the state.
"We had extraordinary, peaceful protests by good citizens of Arkansas. Not just in Little Rock, but in Fayetteville and other places across Arkansas," Hutchinson said. Local media reported largely peaceful protests until late into Tuesday night. Law enforcement did not use crowd control devices such as tear gas to disperse demonstrators.
Though the protest went beyond Little Rock’s current 8 p.m. curfew, Hutchinson said police forces did not act until the McDonald's on Broadway was damaged by a large rock thrown through one of its windows. Of those arrested, Hutchinson said all were from Arkansas.
Law enforcement officials are now under a "unified command structure," due to an executive order signed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday.
“It is simply that we work together with a plan and the orders go out through those different agencies and that respected chain of command that we respect with the city and with the municipal law enforcement agencies,” Hutchinson said
According to Scott, Humphrey still has complete control over the Little Rock Police Department. And while there is a clause that allows the governor to put the state police in control, Scott says that currently is not the plan.
“The governor has not made that decision. He and I have visited about that. He understands that Chief Humphrey is in complete control with the Little Rock Police, and the Little Rock Police is working in coordinated fashion to maintain peace,” Scott said. Speaking on the unified command, Humphrey said the aid from other law enforcement agencies helps the LRPD conduct its usual business.
“The assistance that we’re receiving from the other agencies allows our police officers to continue to respond to the calls that our citizens are placing and provide the service that we’ve always provided, that being top quality service,” Humphrey said.
According to Hutchinson, nine different law enforcement agencies were involved in the policing of the Little Rock demonstration on Tuesday night: the Arkansas State Police, the Little Rock Police Department, the North Little Rock Police Department, the Sherwood Police Department, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department, the Arkansas Highway Police, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration.