LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Organizers of peaceful protests in Little Rock in the wake of George Floyd’s death, say they don’t want the violence some are causing to overshadow their message.
Protests during the day in Little Rock were largely peaceful Saturday and Sunday, but both nights groups damaged buildings and set fires. At least one Little Rock Police Officer was injured trying to stop property damage.
It’s a stark contrast to what happened Sunday afternoon when protestors stood outside Little Rock Police 12th Street Station. That’s when they came face to face with Officers who talked and prayed with them.
“I’m with y’all I promise you. Don’t think we’re not,” an Officer is heard saying in a cell phone video. “We need to have a relationship.”
Protest organizer Zaria McClinton said after that conversation, they all broke a big barrier when officers and protestors hugged and shook hands.
“To me that was the most powerful moment of any protests,” McClinton said. “We don’t want racism, we don’t want to be out here hating our police or scared of our police that’s the whole point of all of this. We want justice and we want peace.”
Sunday night peaceful protesters at the Capitol were seen trying to stop those who started violence and even cleaned up part of the mess they left behind.
Still once the violence started, state police moved in and used teargas smoke and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
“We kneeled in front of them and they still tear gassed us,” McClinton said.
On Monday morning protesters stood peacefully at Little Rock City Hall, where Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey met with them and prayed.
Protestors like McClinton say it’s those moments, that should be the focus of this movement.
“We’re not stopping till it stops, we want change,” she said.
A Little Rock Police Captain who prayed and spoke with protestors Sunday gave these comments:
All demonstration and direct action protests have a collective voice and personnel at the 12th Street Station have always been willing to actively listen to the voices in our community. Yesterday, was an amplified version of our willingness to actively listen.
As was stated in the prayer, my mind and heart were focused on respecting constitutional rights for speech and assembly as well as the safety of all involved citizens and sworn personnel.
The biggest message is to be safe, exercise good judgment while demonstrating, and understand that LRPD is not insensitive to their concerns and we hear their voices.