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story.lead_photo.caption Sen. Joyce Elliott (left), D-Little Rock, listens to Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, as he speaks against a resolution for the Poor People’s Campaign on Monday in the Senate chamber. The resolution, sponsored by Elliott, failed to pass. - Photo by Staton Breidenthal

The Arkansas Senate on Monday shot down a resolution in support of the Arkansas Poor People’s Campaign.

The resolution “recognizes and supports” the group that began organizing in 2017, reviving the 1968 campaign that Martin Luther King Jr. helped organize prior to his assassination.

However, several Republican senators questioned whether the group — which bills itself as “challenging the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and the nation’s distorted morality” — reflected King’s principles.

Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, who sponsored the resolution, said that history shows that the campaign follows King’s ideals.

“There is nothing in this resolution that is not a part of Dr. King’s legacy,” Elliott said. “Not a single thing.”

Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, spoke against the resolution, calling the revived Poor People’s Campaign “overtly political” and criticizing what he perceived as anti-police rhetoric from the campaign.

“We all in this body, I think, care deeply about the message that Martin Luther King had and the original Poor People’s Campaign and what they stood for,” Garner said. “If that was what was in this resolution in front of us today, I would support it, put my name on it, be proud to do it.”

The resolution passed on a voice vote, but several members objected, asking for a roll-call vote, which failed 9-14 along party lines with 10 senators not voting.

Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, questioned references in the resolution to “systemic racism” and “the false moral narrative of Christian nationalism.”

“I would be happy to support a resolution that upholds Dr. Martin Luther King’s principles, but because of a lot of the questions here it makes it very difficult for me,” Rapert said

Sen. Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock, said King was imprisoned for challenging norms at the time, and she challenged senators not to vote for or against any particular set of religious beliefs.

“We have in this country have almost established a theocracy where only Christian values are those that are valued,” Chesterfield said. “Rather than recognizing that in this country the Establishment Clause in the Constitution prohibits us from doing thusly.”

The Arkansas Poor People’s Campaign has demonstrated often at the state Capitol, and its members have been arrested for nonviolent protests, Elliott said.

The group has also demonstrated around Little Rock. Garner criticized its members for blocking traffic and holding signs with what he called anti-police messages.

Elliott closed for the resolution, urging those who revere King’s principles to vote for it.

“Do you really know Dr. King’s legacy?” she said. “Because if you know Dr. King’s legacy, you are not against this resolution. I don’t care how many times somebody stands up here and says this is not his legacy; doesn’t make it true.”


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  • RBear
    February 12, 2019 at 7:58 a.m.

    I see Sen. Look Busy is attacking something he really knows nothing about. It has the word "Poor" in the group's title so he's against them from the start. Pathetic.

  • RobertBolt
    February 12, 2019 at 8:23 a.m.

    A room full of rich, Southern, white, Christian men don't like the version of MLK they didn't sanitize to remove anything that fails to worship rich, Southern, white, Christian men?! Say it ain't so, Jim-Bob!

  • Foghorn
    February 12, 2019 at 9:25 a.m.

    Garner is a skin-headed moron. We all know what Rapert is.

  • GeneralMac
    February 12, 2019 at 10:02 a.m.

    " Arkansas Poor Peoples Campaign"

    (aka the hate group Black Lives Matter)

  • odinson
    February 12, 2019 at 10:06 a.m.

    All hail the Christian god of hate, hypocrisy, anti-minority, and money... (screw the one in that Bible book). Pity the state who looks down upon those with less than your average 'white' male. You are always fine with keeping them down in the dirt as long as you feel like you have a boot on their necks.

  • RobertBolt
    February 12, 2019 at 10:17 a.m.

    I suspect GenMac belongs to the love group Black Lives Don't Matter.

  • mrcharles
    February 12, 2019 at 10:54 a.m.

    Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, all Hail him! Standing up for things that are overly political, and the man from dover , tells us to reject the the false moral narrative of Christian nationalism statements made by those who have been revealed facts withheld from you and i.

    While MLK could out preach the rednecks, and many saw him as a savior from , as Malcolm X said, choose him or me. Let me say, this man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of a deity, you killed , using lawless men to kill him, was just a man [ see memphis , I am a man!] . He did not preach hate your family, bring people to him to worship him and if not slay them, nor did he with love promise to give you unto eternal hell fire. Being a man he drank whiskey [ not that there is anything wrong with that] and had a desire for women [ not that there is anything wrong with that]. He associated with those shared some of the ideas of the community that ananias and sapphira ran around with, till the deity said drop dead [ those who hate socialism , you are warned] .

    Also I am not here to rant against prayer, as Fredrick Douglas said prayer did work for him, but not until he prayed with his feet.

    The lie and inequity in the heart of trent and jason, shall upon their judgment day not work, remember when you stand before the deity of your choice , you cannot say "but I was told by others to do thus" or that "virtue was not convenient at the time. This will not suffice.

    GM, aka, the diety of this earth as stated by St. Saul [ it is unlikely he had the damascus road experience as pretty much his myth if mostly made up- a pharisee taking orders from a Sadducee, dont think so, they hated each other and Sadducee's were in power then, and no way was saul a student of Gamliel ]

    I suggest trent and jason listen to some of MLK's speeches to get an idea of him, other than their arkansas gop thought on MLK. Suggest you start with the one on maladjustment.

    February 12, 2019 at 11:01 a.m.

    RobertBolt, GeneralMac is proud of his membership in the Klan.

  • Seitan
    February 12, 2019 at 11:32 a.m.

    GM should know all about hate groups...first-hand.

    And, yes, “challenging the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and the nation’s distorted morality” is political. It's called good politics. It's what Garner & Rapert should be working for if they weren't so busy shoving religion, useless bills, and guns down our throats.

  • drs01
    February 12, 2019 at 12:13 p.m.

    If anyone other than the radical Joyce Elliott had a hand in this, maybe it would get more support. She is as scary as some of the current female faces of the democrat party. Many of them have made us change our "blonde" jokes and substituted them instead.
    What more scary than this episode is she is an advisor to our new mayor (don't call me Frank) Scott. Unity? Agreement? Not with Elliott around.