LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - A day after declaring a state of emergency, Governor Asa Hutchinson held a news conference Wednesday to discuss the state’s response to the recent protests.
At the governor’s conference room in Little Rock, Gov. Hutchinson said they had extraordinary peaceful protests across the state like in Fayetteville, Jonesboro, and Little Rock.
He said he signed an executive order to activate the National Guard.
There were combined forces of nine different agencies that participated in the protection of protesters so they could exercise their rights and also protect property.
The governor said the protests were peaceful even after they violated the 8 p.m. curfew, but then, ‘certain elements’ took actions to participate in illegal behavior and destruction.
That’s when law enforcement began responding and made 79 arrests, all Arkansas residents.
Gov. Hutchinson also held up a rock and called it a weapon that was used Monday night against police.
Arkansas State Police Director Col. Bill Bryant praised the governor for his efforts in keeping the protests safe.
ASP also released details late Wednesday about arrests that were made Tuesday evening.
“The arrests occurred about 10:30 p.m. after a large group of protesters were told they were in violation of the city curfew and departed the Governor’s Mansion at 1800 Center Street. As the protesters walked north from the mansion district along Broadway Street, a glass doorway at the McDonald’s Restaurant near 7th Street was shattered by an unidentified person among the group,” ASP said in a media release. “As the protesters approached 2nd Street and Broadway, the group was believed to be responsible for vandalism at the Pulaski County Courthouse. Law enforcement officers assigned to the unified team converged on the group near the Broadway Bridge and began making arrests.”
Col. Bryant called Tuesday night a chaotic scene and said after arresting protesters, they found 2 Glock 9mm handguns.
Officials also seized incendiary devices such as a bottle filled with alcohol and a firework or a sprayer filled with gasoline.
Col. Bryant said once they dispersed the crowd Monday night, protestors broke off into groups and caused more destruction.
Col. Bryant said there were no crowd control actions taken last night.
“Because of character integrity, we are going to do the right thing,” Col. Bryant said.
He added that ASP and other agencies will protect your 1st Amendment rights.
“But we’re going to protect our other citizens from crime and violence,” Col. Bryant said.
According to state officials, no out-of-state arrests were made on Monday or Tuesday night’s protests.