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Mayor Frank Scott Jr. is using a security detail from the Little Rock Police Department, officials confirmed Monday.

In a statement citing "serious safety concerns," Scott said police leadership had advised him to accept protection. The detail consists of two police detectives who already worked for the department and one police vehicle, Scott's spokesman Stephanie Jackson said.

The detail was put in place one day after authorities announced that the Little Rock police officer who fatally shot Bradley Blackshire on Feb. 22 would face no criminal charges, though Jackson said that didn't factor into the decision. Scott's statement said he had been made aware of "serious safety concerns" in the months since he was elected in December.

Then-interim Police Chief Wayne Bewley advised a security detail in February, Scott said in the statement. New Police Chief Keith Humphrey, whose first day on the job was April 15, was said to have made the same recommendation "out of an abundance of caution and in keeping with the best practices of many similarly situated cities around the country."

Jackson said the officers would be in plain clothes and that the detail isn't 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week protection. She said the cost is to be determined.

When asked if there are any open investigations into threats to the mayor's office, police spokesman Michael Ford referred the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette to the mayor's office.

Jackson said the safety concerns have been "wide and varied" but said Monday that she didn't have details.

"[Police] have a system of judging what's credible," she said.

Ford said he was not aware of any other Little Rock officials or former mayors having a security detail.

When asked if he had requested a security team or received death threats, Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley said he would have to "respectfully decline to comment."

Also on Monday, protesters and speakers took to the state Capitol steps in a rally calling for action in response to Blackshire's death.

Chants of "justice for Bradley" and "no justice, no peace" rang out multiple times as Blackshire's family members came together with supporters to demand justice in the wake of Jegley's decision not to charge officer Charles Starks.

"We got to hold our officials accountable," Rizelle Aaron, Blackshire's uncle, said at the rally. "We don't promote violence or destruction of property, but we demand justice."

On Feb. 22, Starks confronted the 30-year-old Blackshire, who was driving a car that had been reported stolen, near West 12th Street and South Rodney Parham Road. Video shows that Blackshire did not comply with the officer's commands and the vehicle rolled forward, grazing the officer's hip.

Starks fired his weapon at least 15 times, killing Blackshire. Between bursts of gunfire, Starks moved in front of the vehicle, which then struck him.

Uniformed personnel look through binoculars Monday from the roof of the state Capitol during a protest over the police shooting of Bradley Blackshire.
Uniformed personnel look through binoculars Monday from the roof of the state Capitol during a protest over the police shooting of Bradley Blackshire.

In the weeks since, the Blackshire family, friends and supporters have rallied multiple times to demand first the release of dashboard camera footage of the shooting, then for the prosecution and firing of Starks, for the establishment of a citizen advisory board for the Police Department and for the purchase of body cameras for all Little Rock police officers.

On Friday, Jegley wrote in a letter to Police Chief Humphrey that Starks would not face criminal charges.

"I was disappointed," DeAngelo Lee, Blackshire's stepfather, said Monday. "We had an idea that it was going to happen. The individuals in charge, Jegley, we already knew. But there will be more peaceful protests and more rallies. We aren't going anywhere."

People holding "#Justice for Bradley" signs or wearing "Black Lives Do Matter" shirts voiced their support on Monday and yelled for justice throughout the protest.

"This is intended to be a peaceful nonviolent rally," Aaron said. "I will say this: that is subject to change if the police come and do anything to attack us or try to remove us from the steps that we help to build."

Aaron went on to talk strategy for future demonstrations.

"If we protest, don't do it in our house," he said. "We are coming to their house. We are going to Starks' house, Jegley's house, the Little Rock city directors and Mayor Frank Scott, you are my friend and brother, but we are coming for you too, 'cause we are not leaving anybody out."

Several law enforcement officers also attended the rally, including what appeared to be men in uniform standing on a nearby roof while a drone flew overhead.

"They aren't just standing up there like sharpshooters for nothing," Jihan Mohammad, a member of the Nation of Islam headquartered in Little Rock and Pine Bluff, said while pointing at the men on the roof. "They hope that some of us would act a fool. There is nothing wrong with us organizing."

Kim Blackshire-Lee (third from right), and her husband, DeAngelo Lee (fourth from right), pray Monday during a protest at the state Capitol over the police shooting of her 30-year-old son, Bradley Blackshire, in February. The Pulaski County prosecutor’s office announced Friday that Charles Starks, the officer who shot Blackshire, will not face criminal charges.
Kim Blackshire-Lee (third from right), and her husband, DeAngelo Lee (fourth from right), pray Monday during a protest at the state Capitol over the police shooting of her 30-year-old son, Bradley Blackshire, in February. The Pulaski County prosecutor’s office announced Friday that Charles Starks, the officer who shot Blackshire, will not face criminal charges.

State Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, took to Facebook to voice her displeasure at the amount of law enforcement at the event.

"To my surprise, there was also so much raw police power for a rather small gathering at 10 o'clock a.m.," Elliott wrote. "My first time ever seeing anything like that at the Capitol. It was stunning. The drive leading to the tunnel was blocked. The Capitol itself was locked down."

Elliott said the amount of law enforcement is nothing new when responding to African-Americans.

"This group was not a threat! This is not a terrorist group. Though, predominantly African-American, this was a diverse group of folks who were there in support of Bradley Blackshire's family and in support of a just outcome," she wrote.

Mark Stodola, Little Rock's previous mayor and a former prosecuting attorney, said he "never felt a need for a security detail" in either role. However, he said it wouldn't be surprising to see security added temporarily in light of the Blackshire case, due to the community's concern over the recent decision.

Jackson said the duration of the detail is up to the mayor and Police Department, "based on whatever intelligence" police receive going forward.

City Hall has some security of its own. There's at least one officer present outside the boardroom when the city Board of Directors meets on Tuesdays. Visitors to City Hall are checked in by security staff at the front door.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson uses Arkansas State Police as a security detail. State police spokesman Bill Sadler said there's at least one trooper with the governor at all times.

A Section on 04/23/2019

Print Headline: Little Rock Mayor Scott using police security detail

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Comments

  • reality1963
    April 23, 2019 at 6:08 a.m.

    Ok, enough. Joyce is now joining in on s political plug. Time to vacate LR. Too far gone. Lil’ Baltimore. What has happened to our once proud capital city???? Sad.

  • RBear
    April 23, 2019 at 6:17 a.m.

    This makes sense and I'm surprised it wasn't in place sooner. Mayor Scott is a prominent figure in the Little Rock community and has become a key driver of policy in the city. He will naturally attract supporters and detractors. The rationale behind EP details is to make sure some deranged detractor doesn't threaten the life of the mayor. It's a common practice for most cities like Little Rock or larger.
    ...
    This one statement from Blackshire's uncle drives the need for the EP. "If we protest, don't do it in our house," he said. "We are coming to their house. We are going to Starks' house, Jegley's house, the Little Rock city directors and Mayor Frank Scott, you are my friend and brother, but we are coming for you too, 'cause we are not leaving anybody out."

    ...
    With regards to the protesters, they stand a better chance of being listened to if they focused on solutions in their own community rather than casting blame without action on their own part. The family is being motivated by a small group of activists with an agenda focused more on blaming others than looking inward.
    ...
    From the article, "We got to hold our officials accountable," Rizelle Aaron, Blackshire's uncle, said at the rally. That starts with your own family, Mr. Aaron. When you don't acknowledge the destructive life of your own nephew and focus on a department charged with maintaining public safety, you will find your voices fall mute with the community.

  • NoUserName
    April 23, 2019 at 7:23 a.m.

    I recall Bruce Moore getting a threat. The response was to ban the perpetrator from board meetings.

  • Coach1313
    April 23, 2019 at 8:16 a.m.

    I think Senator Elliott should know better. You never know if protests will stay small or become a large scale event. It is smarter to be prepared.

  • Defiant
    April 23, 2019 at 8:18 a.m.

    He is apparently very impressed with himself. I like the way he says it was someone else’s idea, and he didn’t think of it himself. How long before they will be picking up his dry cleaning and running other errands.

  • punk47
    April 23, 2019 at 8:37 a.m.

    State Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, took to Facebook to voice her displeasure at the amount of law enforcement at the event /she is a nut and always has been who in the crap votes her in one less thug on the streets who did not comply with a order GET OUT OF THE CAR parents did not teach him very well.

  • hah406
    April 23, 2019 at 8:39 a.m.

    Seems to me that Mr. Aaron and Mr. Lee might need to be investigated and charged with terroristic threatening. They might also need to focus on why Mr. Blackshire was shot in the first place. A felon, in possession of a firearm, driving a stolen car, refusing to comply with the lawful orders of a law enforcement officer. Do the facts of the case matter at all to the black community?

  • GeneralMac
    April 23, 2019 at 8:42 a.m.

    (4th to last paragraph)

    At least former mayor Mark Stodola doesn't " beat around the bush" in his speculation as to WHY this protection was called for now.

    Everybody else "tip toeing" as to the need for security because they are soooo scared of offending the Blackshire family.

    Mayor Scott should issue a blunt order to Blackshire family........"Stay away from my home and any other individual's home. Do your threatening and intimidating elsewhere " !

  • Tigermule
    April 23, 2019 at 8:45 a.m.

    Re The Honorable Mayor Frank Scott, Jr.: “It’s good to be king”

  • GeneralMac
    April 23, 2019 at 9:05 a.m.

    Black thug's family threatening to come to the houses of the mayor and prosecutor?

    Some one with a spine in law enforcement should tell them in no uncertain terms that is NOT advisable.

    What sane person in Little Rock is willing to serve jury duty if they believe a thug's family will be coming to their house if they find the thug guilty.

    Little Rock better "nip it in the bud" when thug's family threatens to come to private homes to do their protesting !

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