Governor Declares Emergency; Little Rock Curfew Expanded

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LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas governor declared a state of emergency Tuesday in response to continued demonstrations to protest the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police.

A statement from a spokeswoman for Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the Republican governor acted to unify command of local and state police, the Arkansas National Guard and the state Department of Emergency Management.

The spokeswoman minimized the significance of the move, however. “This is a normal executive order issued when the National Guard is activated under state control in regard to civil disturbance. Under this executive order, sheriff offices and police departments maintain command and operational control of their respective jurisdictions,” Katie Beck said in her statement.

Also Tuesday, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott expanded the city’s curfew a day after Arkansas authorities again used tear gas to break up protests outside the state Capitol. Scott said the city’s nighttime curfew will begin 8 p.m. Scott on Monday imposed a 10 p.m. curfew because of the demonstrations and the coronavirus outbreak.

“There are peaceful protesters and there are those that are from outside forces who have every intent and mission to destroy and destruct property and cause chaos in the city of Little Rock,” Scott said. “We have no room for anyone coming into our city to destroy and destruct.”

Scott extended the curfew following the third day 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.

Demonstrations continued on Tuesday afternoon, as police arrested 28 protesters who blocked a busy intersection in downtown Little Rock.

Police Chief Keith Humphrey said his department also had “pretty credible intelligence” of threats made against local and state officials, though he did not elaborate on who the threats targeted.

Hutchinson said state police arrested five people at Monday’s protest. He said he has not requested any military assistance from the federal government for the demonstrations and didn’t expect to do so. The governor over the weekend mobilized the National Guard to assist local and state police.

“I do not see that in our future,” Hutchinson told reporters. “The role of the National Guard is important, under my control as commander-in-chief of the state military. Their support of the State Police and local law enforcement is what I believe is sufficient in the right direction for this time of protest in the United States.”

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