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LITTLE ROCK — Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott said Monday that the city will re-institute a nightly curfew because large crowds that have gathered to protest the death of George Floyd haven’t followed social distancing guidelines, and some aren’t wearing face masks.
The curfew, which begins Monday, will be in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and exempts people who are traveling to and from work.
Little Rock on May 21 had lifted a curfew put in place in March to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we are putting in place this curfew to protect our residents from outside forces who seek to do harm to our city and to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Scott said. “We respect the rights of residents to peacefully protest and fully expect that they will. We’ll continue to monitor what is happening to determine when the curfew should be lifted.”
There have been protests outside Arkansas’ Capitol and throughout the state over Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. Floyd died May 25 after an officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.
Late Sunday, police used tear gas to disperse demonstrators outside the Capitol, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. The move came after hours of peaceful protest in the capital city, police said.
Saturday protests at the Capitol also ended with police firing tear gas and pepper balls on a group that had damaged property and thrown things at officers, officials said.
Scott said those who violate the curfew will be given a warning the first time it happens but further violations will result in a citation.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who mobilized the Arkansas National Guard over the weekend, said Monday afternoon that he’s working to make sure the peaceful protesters are protected.
“I understand the outrage, the disappointment, the fear and the distrust that is prevalent in a community, in African Americans, that calls them to come out and to demonstrate and to protest,” Hutchinson said Monday afternoon.
“Let’s not let violence and destruction of property … undermine the message that is so important that is being conveyed by the demonstrators,” Hutchinson said.
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