LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Demonstrations continue in at least four Arkansas cities, with protesters calling for changes in how police handle situations involving people of color in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
New policies would prohibit tactics that could lead to brutality, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Wednesday’s call for change started in Pine Bluff with a morning news conference by the Pine Bluff branch of the NAACP, followed with a call by the national NAACP for federal legislation to be developed that will provide detailed procedures and penalties in cases of police brutality.
The Pine Bluff police chief said he would issue an internal department order to forbid the use of chokeholds and kneeling restraints to subdue suspects.
In Rogers, protesters met outside the city’s activity center, where they knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time the police officer pressed his knee on the neck of Floyd, black man who was unarmed and handcuffed when he died in custody. Then they marched to City Hall.
In Little Rock, protesters with an organization called ‘The Movement’ marched from the state Capitol accompanied by police officers. The march was billed as a walk in solidarity with local law enforcement.
Pulaski Sheriff Eric Higgings announced that deputies in his department will be required to intervene when they see their colleagues use excessive force.
“That was done because of you,” Higgins said to the protesters. “The community has to remain involved. Hold us accountable. Point out things that we need to do.”
He described the policy as an effort to have deputies hold one another accountable internally — where punishment for those that do not intervene in an instance of excessive force could range up to and including termination.
In Jacksonville, several police officers also marched with protesters while others lined the route.
Mayor Bob Johnson spoke to the crowd at Jacksonville City Hall and said he has made several changes in the police force.