State Rep. John Walker
rejects the city's apology for his arrest yesterday
and complains at the city's decision to pursue a charge against an associate in his law firm.
It's about race, Walker, the 79-year-old civil rights lawyer, says. He is right, of course. When a white officer goes out of her way to complain about remarks Walker made about white officers at the jail after his arrest, it's emblematic of an overwhelmingly white force that overwhelmingly chooses white flight suburban cities in which to live (and many get subsidized city transportation to do so). They don't think the city is safe and they think the schools, with their black majority student bodies, also are unsuitable for their children. (A majority of black officers live here.) It is also true that a black man arrested for what Walker did wouldn't get nearly the consideration that a smart, seasoned, feaarless black lawyer received in 24 hours.
I understand some new officers were part of the complement of at least eight officers on the scene at the arrest of Walker. The FOP has been careful in its response to events. It gets along with the chief reasonably well. He is black, by the way. The vets know that obnoxious people with cameras, however vexing, are exercising constitutional rights. It could be, as some suggest, that Walkers' young associate went too far in injecting himself into an arrest scene and Walker did not. But I, too, await the arrival of video to form some stronger impressions.
John Walker is, no doubt, a provocateur. As he has every right to be. It is hard to imagine the state of black people in Arkansas today without some of the victories he's won.
The letter today also indicates the matter won't recede quickly or easily. If your browser can't scale up the letter to City Manager Bruce Moore and Police Chief Kenton Buckner above, it says:
I cannot in good conscience accept your apology for the unlawful actions of the arresting officers yesterday by the Arkansas Arts Center. I also cannot accept the disparate treatment of my college Mr. Omavi Shukur. I appreciate hour effort to address the matter by providing further training to your officers. However, you must also recognize the issue of racial bias that is pervasive in some quarters of the police department. It happens that the two officers who arrested us yesterday are white. The black officers did not speak to us and appeared to be taking orders. I understand that this may [sic] due to seniority but it still has a grave negative impact on the Little Rock black community's relationship with the LRPD, of which our arrest is but one example.