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story.lead_photo.caption Sen. Stephanie Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, hugs Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale, after Clark spoke Monday in the Senate about events in a committee meeting last week. - Photo by Staton Breidenthal

After having her angry remarks on a controversial stand-your-ground bill viewed more than 10 million times on the Internet in the past week, state Sen. Stephanie Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, addressed her viral fame from the floor of the Senate on Monday.

The longtime legislator told her fellow senators that she was proud that her point of view had spread so far.

"I don't apologize for my expression, and my passion, and my emotion," Flowers said.

Flowers' temper flared last week as she spoke in a committee meeting against Senate Bill 484 by Sen. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, a proposal that would eliminate a "duty to retreat" from Arkansas' self-defense law. Similar laws are nearly ubiquitous in the South and have been enacted in 25 states. SB484 failed to get out of committee last week. Video from the meeting -- focusing on Flowers' outburst -- showed up on social media and on news shows.

Opponents of so-called stand-your-ground laws, including Flowers, say they increase the likelihood of violence against black people.

On Monday, Flowers said she had received more than 600 messages of support from the public since Wednesday, and only several angry or threatening responses. On Sunday, the senator also discussed her reaction to SB484 in an interview with CNN's Fredricka Whitfield.

[RELATED: Complete Democrat-Gazette coverage of the Arkansas Legislature]

Although Flowers said she appreciated the attention, she told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Monday that some of the publicity felt opportunistic.

"All of a sudden I'm visible," said Flowers, who began serving in the House in 2005 and moved to the Senate in 2011. She has spoken out before, passionately, on the issue of gun violence.

After she began to gain attention online last week, knowledge of Flowers' personal connections to gun violence also began to spread. One clip arose showing Flowers speaking in 2017 about the death of her sister, who was shot and killed in Texas in 1969.

Flowers also told a reporter Monday that her great-grandfather, Alonzo Flowers, was among those killed in the Howard County Race Riot of 1883.

Two of the Republicans who had pushed for SB484 in the Senate Judiciary Committee last week and to whom Flowers had directed a part of her ire -- Ballinger and Sen. Trent Garner of El Dorado -- used several Twitter posts over the weekend to push back against Flowers' remarks. The senator from Pine Bluff had used several profanities and threatened to "invoke" the legislation if it passed.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jim Hendren, R-Sulphur Springs, quashed any thought of censure Monday, telling the Senate that he would not support any effort to punish Flowers.

Ballinger also said Monday that he would not seek to censure Flowers, though he added that her remarks were "not justifiable."

Flowers also took time on Monday to correct some of the record surrounding the hearing and vote on SB484.

Sen. Bob Ballinger speaks Monday about the events that unfolded in a committee meeting last week. More photos are available at arkansasonline.com/312genassembly/.
Sen. Bob Ballinger speaks Monday about the events that unfolded in a committee meeting last week. More photos are available at arkansasonline.com/312genassembly/.

In Senate footage of the hearing that was shared widely on social media, the committee chairman, Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale, can clearly be heard telling Flowers "you need to stop." What's less clear in the audio, Clark said, is his adding the words, "with the profanity."

Flowers responded to Clark at the hearing: "No, I don't. What the hell are you gonna do, shoot me?"

Online, much of the reaction was critical of Clark. A headline on The Washington Post website said, referring to Clark as a "GOP lawmaker," that he had attempted to "silence" Flowers.

"I felt bad about Alan getting the brunt" of the criticism, Flowers said Monday.

The real impetus for her ire, Flowers said, was that a second motion to limit the debate on SB484 last week came from her two fellow Democrats on the committee, who had opposed an earlier motion to limit the debate. Sen. Will Bond, D-Little Rock, who had moved to limit the debate, said Monday that he did so because he believed there were enough votes on the committee to vote down the bill, which is what eventually happened.

Among the Democrats who responded to her viral video were U.S. senators -- and declared presidential candidates -- Kamala Harris of California and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

"They were all trying to get me to call them," Flowers told a reporter from the Democrat-Gazette on Monday evening, referring to the response from national Democrats.

"I thought that they were trying to use me. I didn't appreciate it."

Flowers said she believed that SB484 was effectively dead this session. As the Judiciary Committee met again Monday, no motion was made to rehash consideration of the bill.

Ballinger, however, said he would bring the bill up again if he has the votes to do so.

Information for this article was contributed by Michael R. Wickline of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

A Section on 03/12/2019

Print Headline: Gun remarks revisited by state senator; views on stand-your-ground bill shared in viral video

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Comments

  • Got2Kids
    March 12, 2019 at 7:19 a.m.

    In all fairness, someone needs to remind her that the single greatest threat to the life of a young African American male is, tragically, another young African American male. That assertion is based on both FBI and CDC current statistics.

  • GOHOGS19
    March 12, 2019 at 8:29 a.m.

    spot on GOT2KIDS.

  • TedStryker
    March 12, 2019 at 9:39 a.m.

    Forcing victims to retreat rather than defend themselves seems like Flowers is defending the criminal, rather than the victim.

  • GeneralMac
    March 12, 2019 at 9:43 a.m.

    Trayvon Martin would still be alive today if he hadn't listened to his dimwitted girlfriend.

  • GeneralMac
    March 12, 2019 at 9:44 a.m.

    What I posted is a FACT but some snowflakes will ask that the FACT gets removed.

  • Wingers
    March 12, 2019 at 9:45 a.m.

    Unfortunately the black on black crime statistics are always lost in the discussion about guns. I don’t understand why areas with more crime don’t seem to want more policing. The rhetoric on policing is mostly unfounded and statistics also bear that out.

  • reality1963
    March 12, 2019 at 10:39 a.m.

    It breaks my heart and hurts my soul, to see PB, today. I cherish the memories of being born and raised, in the once proud town. Sadly witnessed the death spiral of Main St., Jefferson Square, Little League(s), Cherry St., Broadmoor, etc.... As I think back, we had a wonderful life! Now, it is all gone. I understand strong employers left but, you have to have a strong labor base to support these companies. The crime is unreal. I still have many friends still living in PB, black and white. I know if several who have a gun tucked in their belt, while mowing their yards. This is the gospel truth. So, before you start knocking innocent gun owners, address the real problem. Lock up the criminals, clean up the town and work together. If not, you spiral down will continue. Look in the mirror, before you show out and try to deflect.

  • GeneralMac
    March 12, 2019 at 11:40 a.m.

    REALITY1963..............BINGO !

    BINGO !...(also to GOT2KIDS,GOHOGS19,TEDSTRYKER,WINGER)

  • Packman
    March 12, 2019 at 11:50 a.m.

    Flowers made a fool of herself and is too dumb to see it. Anyone that supports her crazed outburst is just as dumb. Flowers left the room that day to take a smoke break. Second hand cigarette smoke has killed or sickened millions of people over the years, a high percentage being young people. Flowers is a real piece of work.
    .
    The real racism in this discussion is the veiled implication black people aren't law abiding citizens who support and will benefit from stand your ground laws. If anyone deserves protections offered by stand your ground laws, it's individuals residing in high crime areas like Pine Bluff. Why does Stephanie Flowers feel it necessary to discriminate so passionately against her own constituents?

  • DANNY46
    March 12, 2019 at 12:55 p.m.

    Flowers is insane. She should be barred from the Senate!!!

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