Democratic state lawmaker and civil rights attorney John Walker was arrested on Monday for obstructing governmental operations.
UPDATE II: Check out Karen Tricot Steward's report here. The LRPD has dropped charges against Walker, but not his colleague, and apologized. Walker has refused the apology.
UPDATE: A report from the Little Rock Police Department record that Walker, 79, was arrested along with attorney Omavi Kushukuru, 29, while attempting to witness the arrest of two unconnected suspects who were pulled over because one was driving a car without a license plate.
27 year old Cedric Bell, the driver, did not have a drivers license either and had warrants for his arrest for theft in North Little Rock. Passenger Gary Gregory, 24, also had a warrant out for his arrest. Both men are African-American, as are Walker and Kushukuru. KUAR has requested information from the LRPD on the demographics of the arresting officers. Jasmine Reynolds is the reporting author on the incident report. She didn't write the narrative attached. An excerpt from it describe the situation from the LRPD's point of view.
You can read the full report here.
BELL WAS PLACED IN HANDCUFFS AND WALKED TO OUR PATROL VEHICLE BY OFFICER REYNOLDS. AS REYNOLDS WAS WALKING BELL TO OUR VEHICLE, BELL ASKED WHAT SUSPECT 4 (WALKER) WAS DOING FILMING THE ARREST.
AT THAT POINT I HEARD WALKER STATE `I`M JUST MAKING SURE THEY DON`T KILL YOU.`
OFFICER J. ROBERTS AND I ATTEMPTED TO SPEAK WITH WALKER, BUT HE KEPT TALKING OVER US IN AN ANTAGONISTIC AND PROVOCATIVE MANNER. WE LEFT WALKER TO HIS FILMING AND MOVED BACK TO THE TRAFFIC STOP THAT OFFICERS REYNOLDS AND WIGGS WERE CONDUCTING.
OFFICER REYNOLDS FOUND THAT SUSPECT 2 (GREGORY), THE PASSENGER, ALSO HAD AN FTA WARRANT OUT OF OUR DEPARTMENT #LR 15-5190. WHILE OFFICERS WERE DEALING WITH THE ARREST OF GREGORY, SUSPECT 3 (KUSHUKURU) AND WALKER BEGAN WALKING TOWARD OUR TRAFFIC STOP.
OFFICER J. ROBERTS TOLD KUSHUKURU AND WALKER TO STOP AND NOT TO COME INTO THE AREA OF THE TRAFFIC STOP. OFFICER ROBERTS REPEATED THE COMMAND SEVERAL TIMES. KUSHUKURU AND WALKER IGNORED THESE COMMANDS.
KUSHUKURU WALKED BETWEEN OUR PATROL VEHICLE AND VEHICLE 1. WALKER STOPPED AT THE REAR OF VEHICLE 1. OFFICER ROBERTS TOOK KUSHUKURU INTO CUSTODY. I (THOMPSON) APPROACHED WALKER AND ADVISED HIM TO LEAVE THE AREA OF THE TRAFFIC STOP. WALKER MOVED TO THE FRONT OF VEHICLE 1 AND ONTO THE SIDEWALK BY VEHICLE 1.
I ORDERED WALKER SEVERAL TIMES TO LEAVE OR BE ARRESTED. WALKER REPLIED `ARREST ME` AT WHICH POINT I DID
Upon arriving at the jail, the report says Walker announced he wanted to file a complaint.
WHILE AT THE JAIL, OFFICER WIGGS OVERHEARD WALKER STATE TO A JAILER, `I ONLY WANT TO FILE A COMPLAINT AGAINST THE WHITE OFFICERS.`
Posted Monday around 1 p.m.:
Walker was arrested at 12:30 p.m. and a $1,000 bond was set. The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports the arrest occurred at 9th and Commerce. Two large elegant houses, 1 abandoned home, and the Arkansas Arts Center sit on the four-way intersection.
The Arkansas Times notes that Walker was wrongly arrested for the same charge in Pine Bluff in 1998. He was never charged and successfully sued the city.
Walker was driving with his daughter and two grandchildren and stopped to observe a traffic stop of young black men by white Pine Bluff police officers. Walker parked and walked across the street to observe the encounter. An officer walked over and asked him what he was doing and Walker stated that he was watching "Pine Bluff's finest in action." Walker was arrested for "obstructing governmental operations" and then, according to Walker's testimony, the officer "drove Walker at varying speeds over dark wooded roads to the police station."
Walker also backed a law passed in 2015 that ensures the right of the public to document events in public places:
(b)(1) A public officer or employee shall not: 3 (A) Prohibit a person from using a recording device 4 carried on or near the person in a place that is open to and accessible to 5 the general public or any private property where the person is lawfully 6 present unless the act of recording or the location of the recording person: 7 (i) Presents a risk to the physical safety of anyone 8 present, not including the person making the recording;
The law goes on to list a number of other exemptions.
Walker is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame and his name is marked along the Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail.
KUAR is seeking comment from Rep. Walker.