Little Rock, AR: Protest Blocks Streets in Wake of Police Killing of Bradley Blackshire

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Report back from demonstration following the police killing of Bradley Blackshire in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Little Rock man and father, Bradley Blackshire, was murdered by Little Rock Police Officer Charles Starks on February 22nd of 2019. Blackshire was believed to have stolen the car, and refused to exit the car when ordered, neither of which is punishable by death. Starks shot at Blackshire 15 times as Blackshire tried to flee. Starks is documented on video as having jumped in front of the car, knowing that his murder of Blackshire would only be defensible in court if Blackshire was using the car as a weapon. It was announced that there would be no indictment for Starks, and the Little Rock black community and the Blackshire family responded. A call for support was issued via social media on the night of April 15th.

On April 16th, family members of Blackshire, local black activists, legal advocates, members of the black community, and Little Rock anarchists and communists gathered across the street from City Hall around 3:30 pm. Police had already begun to arrive and coordinate a response. At 3:45, we walked down the sidewalk and onto the crosswalk on the west side of the Broadway intersection at Markham St. We formed a line across the crosswalk with the intention of preventing traffic from passing. Everyone was asked to go live on Facebook both to garner support and to hold the police accountable.

One woman in a red vehicle nudged toward protestors and honked loudly, but protestors made it clear that we would not move. The captain of the protest, Rizelle Aaron, notified police of our demands: an audience with himself, Blackshire’s mother, Kimberly Blackshire-Lee, and either Mayor Frank Scott or the chief of police Keith Humphrey.
One man in a large, black truck attempted to turn right after leaving the Broadway bridge to the north, and honked and shouted at protestors who refused to let him pass. He nudged a few of us with his truck, and only left after being approached by an officer.
By this point, there were scattered officers at the scene. Aaron spoke passionately about the LRPD’s history of neglect, violence, and abuse of their powers, especially in the black community. Other protestors began to chant “No justice, no peace.” A white officer with a shaved head approached for the first time to announce via megaphone that our gathering was unlawful, and that we would be arrested. He was met with a chorus of “No justice, no peace.” Vulnerable protestors moved to the sidewalk while protest leaders and less vulnerable supporters continued to block traffic.

Police blocked traffic on the north side of the Broadway bridge, the east side of the Markham intersection, and the north side of Broadway and 4th street. They directed trapped vehicles on the western side of Markham to turn around and leave, and then filled that part of Markham with police vehicles. As many as 15 or more officers formed a line between protestors and police vehicles. We were notified again that our gathering was unlawful and that we would be arrested. Protestors stood firm and Aaron reiterated his demand of an audience with either Mayor Scott or Chief Humphrey.

February 22, 2019 Bradley Blackshire was MURDERED by LRPD OFFICER Charles Starks. He has been on paid leave 53 days and no charges have been filed by prosecutor Larry Jegley. Broadway will be shut down to voice demands and raise awareness to police brutality and murders in the community and across the world.#JusticeforBradley #LittleRock #NoJusticeJUSTUS #Stopkillercops #PolicethePolice #Arkkkansas #YourLocalBlactivist

Dawn Jeffrey 发布于 2019年4月16日周二

More officers began to filter in. Officers on the east side of Broadway were seen pulling batons from their vehicles. A larger police vehicle arrived, which would have had the capacity to transport most, if not all, of the protestors in attendance. Officers with zip tie handcuffs joined the already gathered officers in front of the protestors. Journalists were recording the events and asking some protestors questions. A third time, the officer with the megaphone announced that our gathering was unlawful and that we would be arrested. We answered him with further chants of “No justice, no peace.” Aaron once again issued the demand of an audience. He reminded the police that more than 10 people in the gathering were live on social media, and that the world was watching them. Some officers were seen with their hands resting on their guns. Protestors refused to move.

Chief Humphrey arrived, escorted by several officers. He spoke with Aaron for several minutes while protestors continued to block the intersection. Humphrey offered platitudes about letting justice take its course, and protestors were not satisfied. Kimberly Blackshire-Lee was there as well, making an appeal for justice for her family’s devastating loss.

Humphrey refused to promise justice, but offered sufficient recourse to satisfy Aaron for the time being. We had been granted an audience, and Blackshire’s family and community had their opportunity to demand justice from someone in power to deliver it to them. Protestors moved to the sidewalks, and police began to disperse to allow the road to open again.

The protest resolved peacefully, much to the disappointment of the officers gathered there to intimidate us with the threat of violence. Direct action worked today, and the community is not backing down. All told, traffic across the Broadway bridge was halted for at least half an hour at the beginning of the afternoon rush. There is further community action planned to demand justice from the city of Little Rock. The family wants Charles Starks to be terminated from LRPD and brought up on formal charges befitting his murder of Bradley Blackshire. Little Rock will no longer accept the two due processes: one for the capitalist and white, and one for the black and brown and working class.


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