State Police Use Tear Gas to Break Up Protest at Capitol

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LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas authorities used tear gas for the third night in a row Monday to disperse protests outside the state Capitol over the death of George Floyd.

Arkansas State Police fired tear gas to break up the protest, which had grown to several hundred people in downtown Little Rock and went beyond a 10 p.m. curfew the city’s mayor implemented because of the demonstrations and the coronavirus outbreak.

It marked the third night of protests at the Capitol 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.

Mayor Frank Scott marched with demonstrators and pleaded for calm. But the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported some protesters became unruly. Buildings along Capitol Avenue, including the Bank OZK building, were damaged and crews put out a fire at the Arkansas Pharmacists Association building.

Susan Blair, Bank OZK’s executive vice president and director of corporate communications, said the company didn’t have an estimate for repairs to the building. She said damage was limited to the glass in the exterior doors and windows and cosmetic damage to the ATM.

“We are in the process of making repairs and the office is expected to reopen tomorrow,” Blair said. “The ATM remained functional since the damage was only cosmetic.”

The Democrat-Gazette reported one of its reporters was assaulted and taken to the hospital late Monday night.

The damage followed mostly peaceful demonstrations throughout the day that included Little Rock’s police chief meeting with protesters outside City Hall.

(Lance Turner of Arkansas Business contributed to this report. Contents © copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.)