Gov. Asa Hutchinson, along with Director of the Arkansas State Police Colonel Bill Bryant, held a press conference June 3 to address the unified law enforcement response to protect peaceful protests and the previous night’s law enforcement work. The conference took place before his daily COVID-19 update.
On Tuesday night, 79 Arkansans were arrested. However, no crowd control measures were enforced. In addition, the governor referenced the presence of “outside elements,” who reportedly act on the mission to destruct property.
Hutchinson noted the stark difference of protesting efforts between the nights of June 1 and June 2, referencing various causes for the positive shift. On June 2, Hutchinson declared a state of emergency in Arkansas and signed an executive order to activate the National Guard, which unified the command structure – nine federal, state, county and municipal agencies were participating in the protection of protestors on the night of June 2. In addition, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. activated a curfew of 8 p.m. for the city, which Hutchinson stated was a contributing factor to the state of protests last night.
“Last night, we had extraordinary peaceful protests by good citizens of Arkansas – not just in Little Rock, but across the state,” Hutchinson said. “However, as we have seen on previous nights, as the night progressed, there were certain elements that took their actions into their own hands and destroyed property and at times committed acts of violence as well.”
Bryant outlined what protests in Little Rock have looked like since the first on Saturday, May 30. He noted that law enforcement has pursued receiving voluntary compliance before enforcing law enforcement elements, largely referencing a stone that was thrown through a glass window at a McDonald’s restaurant downtown in addition to the reported findings of guns, Molotov cocktail bombs, bricks and various other items.
“As long as they remain peaceful, [law enforcement] is there to protect,” Bryant said.
Arkansas will remain under a state of emergency until the end of the month.