Arkansas Civil Rights

Several of the state’s top politicians – all of whom are white - celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at the predominately African-American St. Mark Baptist Church in Little Rock. Governor Asa Hutchinson recounted first seeing King on television in his youth and indirectly rebuffed President-elect Trump’s disparagement of a different, still living Civil Rights icon.

Governor Hutchinson, a Republican from the small town of Gravette in northwest Arkansas, recounted how as a junior high school student he first came to learn of King.

The Confederate soldiers monument at the state Capitol.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

'Heritage not hate' is an oft heard refrain from Arkansans working to protect the state's dual observance of Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King, Jr. But throughout 2015 and 2016 long-established heritage groups, like the Sons of Confederate Veterans, overlapped and interacted with modern-day Southern, white nationalist groups like the League of the South on numerous occasions.

State Rep. Charles Blake (D-Little Rock) testifying to end the joint observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert E. Lee. (2015 file photo)
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Heading into Arkansas's concurrent observances of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Robert E. Lee Day some lawmakers were predicting this could be the last year for the joint state holiday. But despite the backing of the state's Republican governor, no one has stepped forward to carry the legislation.

File photo. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The office of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Wednesday (Jan. 4) asked a federal judge to issue a temporary stay on a case before the U.S. District Court in Harrison questioning the constitutionality of the state’s landlord tenant rules, or wait until the upcoming legislation session is over before moving forward with court hearings.

Ted Bonner
KATV, Channel 7 News

The Arkansas NAACP and several residents are calling for the resignation of a school board member in eastern Arkansas after photos surfaced of him in blackface while holding a sign referring to the Black Lives Matter movement.

NAACP members and others demanded Ted Bonner's resignation Monday during a Blevins School Board meeting. But the board's president, Justice West, says there's no mechanism for removing Bonner, who has refused to resign. Bonner has two years left in his term.

A national trucking company has agreed to pay $260,000 to settle discrimination complaints by four Sikh truckers who were denied jobs for refusing drug tests that violated their religious beliefs.

J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. reached the settlement being announced Tuesday with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The Sikh Coalition, a civil rights organization that represented the men, says the trucking company required three men to clip their hair for drug samples and required a fourth to remove his turban before providing a urine sample.

Arkansas is asking the nation's highest court to not review a decision upholding the state's lethal injection law, saying the nine death row inmates challenging the ruling have not raised a federal claim in the case.

The city of Little Rock is dedicating a new bench in honor of a 67-year-old black man who was fatally shot by two off-duty police officers in 2010.

The bench honoring Eugene Edward Ellison is located in MacArthur Park in downtown Little Rock. Earlier this year, the city reached a settlement with Ellison's family, and part of it called for a memorial bench in Ellison's honor.

Ellison was shot after two officers who were working security at the building entered Ellison's apartment without a warrant. Neither of the officers, who are both white, was criminally charged.

Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said the university is backing six women's basketball players who kneeled during the national anthem before an exhibition game Thursday.

Michael Sabbie
Huffington Post

A video has surfaced of an inmate who died at a privately run Texarkana jail more than a year ago. It shows 35- year-old Michael Sabbie, who was pepper sprayed and restrained, repeatedly telling corrections officers that he could not breathe. He died a short time later.

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