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2 people arrested during Black Lives Matter protest in Conway

by Joseph Flaherty | July 12, 2020 at 3:09 p.m.
A Conway Police Department vehicle is shown in this file photo.

Two people, one of them a volunteer legal observer, were arrested on Sunday at a Black Lives Matter protest in Conway outside of an Andy's Frozen Custard restaurant on Dave Ward Drive, according to police.

One day earlier, television station THV-11 reported that a white employee at an Andy's Frozen Custard location in Conway had been fired for making racist comments in the presence of a Black co-worker.

Live video posted to Facebook on Sunday shows a group of demonstrators chanting, "No justice, no peace," near the drive-thru area of the restaurant.

According to LaTresha Woodruff, a spokeswoman for the Conway Police Department, Andy's had asked that the demonstrators on Sunday not come onto the property, and a sergeant "made sure that the demonstrators knew the property line, and apparently they violated that," she said.

The two individuals who were arrested, Brittany "Dawn" Jeffrey and Connor Thompson, were booked into the county jail and charged with criminal trespassing at an occupiable structure, a Class B misdemeanor, according to the Faulkner County sheriff's office website.

Woodruff said that a third person under the age of 18 was briefly detained at the scene.

Thompson, 27, is a student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's W.H. Bowen School of Law. He is a part of a group of volunteer legal observers who mobilized to monitor demonstrations in Little Rock after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Those legal observers such as Thompson typically identify themselves at demonstrations by wearing a white armband.

In a phone interview on Sunday after he was released from jail, Thompson said that he was wearing the white armband during Sunday's protest. As he was being detained and handcuffed, others at the demonstration shouted that he was a legal observer, he said.

He and Jeffrey were held in the jail for approximately one hour, Thompson said.

When asked about Thompson's arrest in light of his status as a legal observer, Woodruff said, "I don't know who was arrested."

Jeffrey is an activist leader who has participated in recent demonstrations for racial justice in Little Rock after the death of Floyd, including peaceful protests that shut down Walmart stores in greater Little Rock on June 14 and again on July 5.

Live video on Facebook shows Jeffrey being handcuffed as an officer warns her not to resist.

"Myself and the legal observer have been released," Jeffrey wrote on Facebook shortly before 1:30 p.m. "I intentionally walked the property line with the Sergeant. He clearly stated on video that I could be where I was standing. There were also several other people standing beside me."

She added, in all capital letters, "This was a targeted arrest."

CORRECTION: LaTresha Woodruff, a spokeswoman for the Conway Police Department, said two people were arrested at the demonstration outside Andy's in Conway on Sunday, and a third person under the age of 18 was briefly detained at the scene. An earlier version of this article cited Woodruff's initial statement that three individuals were arrested at the demonstration.

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