Jonesboro protests George Floyd's death

Jun 1, 2020

The death of George Floyd by the hands of Minneapolis police has sparked outrage across the country, especially within the African-American community.

Protests have taken place in many cities, including in Jonesboro.  On Sunday evening, a March for Justice rally took place along Caraway Road.

It was one of many marches that took place across the nation to express frustration over multiple killings by police with people of color.

KLEK General Manager LaGanzie Kale, a KASU content partner, estimated that thousands of people of all races joined in the peaceful protest. 

Kale said the people prayed before they marched from the Burlington Coat Factory parking lot to Jonesboro Police headquarters, where they were greeted by the JPD’s chaplain, as well as police chief Rick Elliot.

The march was organized by 17-year-old Deja Williams.  Williams explained to KASU News why she and her siblings decided to hold the march in Jonesboro despite the incident occurring in Minneapolis.

Williams said it was about giving the opportunity for the community to express their concerns with local authorities and to demand justice for all people.

Deandre Brinkley, Deja's older brother, also helped with the march. 

Brinkley agreed with his sister saying that what happened in Minneapolis could happen in Jonesboro or any other place.

For some in Jonesboro's African-American community, George Floyd's death bring memories of Chavis Carter.

21-year-old Carter was found dead with a gunshot wound while handcuffed in the back of a police car in 2012.  The Arkansas State Crime Lab had ruled it a suicide, however his family denied that claim.

That incident did not happen under Rick Elliot's tenure as JPD Police Chief.

Elliot was at the march addressing the crowd saying he understood the community's frustration and even condemned the actions of the Minneapolis officer who killed Floyd. 

After the march, Elliot told KASU News that he's made strides with working on improving the community's relationship with the police.

He said times like these are an opportunity for authorities across the nation to learn how to prevent similar issues from happening in their communities.

Brinkley said he felt the relationship between some in the community and JPD still needs some work, but the march was an opportunity towards making more steps to improving the relationship.

Kale maintained that the protest, for the most part, remained peaceful until after the group came from the JPD headquarters.

He said protestors said that a man in a black truck allegedly pulled a gun out on the group as they were making their way back to the Burlington parking lot.

Elliot said the person was from out of town and said that a warrant has been issued for his arrest.  He didn't give any more details on that incident.

However, hours later the march became more intense.   Kale posted video on the station's Facebook page of some of the protesters who moved the march further south down Caraway, ending up on the Interstate-555 overpass.

The scene blocked traffic in both direction on Caraway and coming in from I-555.  Police were on the overpass in riot gear.  They threatened to deploy tear gas if the crowd did not disperse.

The protestors turned around and marched back.  KASU News has not heard of any arrests following that confrontation.

The Associated Press reported that March for Justice rallies on Sunday also took place in Little Rock, Fort Smith, Conway, and Russellville.