LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Governor Asa Hutchinson held a news conference Wednesday to discuss the unified law enforcement response to protect peaceful protests and Tuesday night’s law enforcement work.
Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of Arkansas State Police (ASP) joined the governor on Wednesday.
Governor Hutchinson said we had extraordinary peaceful protests all over the state on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the governor activated the National Guard. The governor said he issued an executive order that established a unified command structure. The governor said the chain of command still goes to the jurisdiction they are in.
Governor Hutchinson said nine different agencies participated in the protection of protesters and property. Arkansas State Police, Little Rock Police, North Little Rock Police, Sherwood Police, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, Highway Police, Arkansas Game & Fish, FBI and DEA were involved in the unified command structure.
The governor said after the 8 p.m. curfew in Little Rock, the protesters continued to the Governor’s Mansion. The protesters were peaceful at the mansion and police did not take any action, the governor said.
According to Gov. Hutchinson, it was only when certain elements went to destroy property that law enforcement moved in.
Hutchinson said law enforcement’s action started after protesters went from the mansion to Broadway. Windows were broken at the McDonald’s on Broadway.
The governor said the unified response made 79 arrests Tuesday night and all were Arkansas residents.
Col. Bryant said two protesters had Glock 9mm pistols on Tuesday night. According to Bryant, there were also water bottles found that were filled with pure alcohol. The bottles were found before they were used, according to Bryant. The director of ASP said people were trying to set buildings on fire. A sprayer full of gasoline was also found before it was used, Bryant said. Officers found bricks hidden in the bushes around the Capitol before they were used.
Bryant said there were no crowd control devices used, but protesters were arrested.
They were booked with obstructing governmental operations.
Col. Bryant said on Saturday, shots were fired into the air by protesters, things were thrown at officers and vandalism was done at the State Capitol.
According to Col. Bryant, accelerants were put on the ground and set on fire and some protesters burglarized the Winthrop Rockefeller building.
Bryant said protesters became more violent on Monday, charging officers and pouring beer on them.
Governor Hutchinson said he is pleased that murder charges have been brought against an officer in the George Floyd case and he expects more charges to be filed.
The governor said we need more listening with members of the community.
The governor says he wants to see how we can do better.
You can watch the full news conference above.