JONESBORO, Ark. – Protests stayed peaceful over the weekend in Jonesboro – mostly. However, after tensions boiled over in separate incidents, two people were arrested on Sunday.
The Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott was pleased at how smooth the events went over the weekend, he told NEA Report Monday morning. He said one of the organizers was a teen who worked hard to keep Sunday’s march peaceful. Elliott felt he deserved to be commended for his efforts.
Sunday’s protests were going well, Elliott said, until a man aggressively drove through protesters on Caraway Road. Photographer James Bickham told NEA Report the man knocked several people down with his SUV. Bickham said the protesters responded by kicking his vehicle and he sped off. As he was approaching the intersection with Nettleton, a marcher kicks his vehicle. That’s when the man appears to get out with an AR-style rifle, putting the crowd in a frenzy of fear and anger. While some ran away, others swarmed his vehicle and caused heavy damage to it. The back window and at least one side window was busted out.
Later in the day, police obtained a warrant and arrested the man for aggravated assault.
“I want everybody to do the right thing,” Elliott said. “Up until that point, everything was pretty smooth. That kind of got tempers up a little bit. I think it would have ended if not for that.”
Following that incident, the march began to decrease in size and many thought the day’s events were concluded. However, a group continued down to the Caraway Road overpass. The teen mentioned earlier by Elliott went back to the overpass and tried to reason with the crowd. Tensions were sparked when someone on the overpass allegedly threw an item at a State Trooper making a traffic stop on I-555. The police chief said the suspect was arrested.
Live video showed police in riot gear responding to the overpass and threatening to use tear gas to disperse the crowd. Fortunately, none was used in the videos we reviewed. The marchers retreated off of the overpass and continued to dwindle in size while moving back down Caraway Road to the front lawn of the police department.
Another protest is planned from 11 AM – 2 PM at the Craighead County Courthouse today.
The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police
Every cop in the country has sat and cringed at that video, Elliot said. And he didn’t mince words about it. He said every officer in America is paying for the actions of those Minneapolis officers.
“The actions of those Minneapolis officers is not indicative of what we do here in Jonesboro,” Elliott said. “The actions of those officers up there, there’s nothing remotely that I could condone. Once you get him in custody, why are you lingering with this guy? What’s the purpose? We even have in our policy, when we get them down on the ground and handcuffed, you roll them over to their side. That’s in our policy!”