EL DORADO, Ark. (7/3/20) — Emotions are still running high after a Thursday evening protest was broken up by the El Dorado Police Department.
Witnesses claim they were peacefully protesting for the Black Lives Matter movement and against the Confederate monument that stands on the Union County courthouse lawn when counter-protesters across the street were trying to intimidate them.
“We had a group of people across the street who were bothering us and harassing us,” Alyson Frisby said. “They had their guns out and everything. They were unholstering them and keeping their hands on them.”
According to a manager at PJ’s Coffee in downtown El Dorado, the counter-protesters were posted in front of his business. He had a front row seat to their actions and witnessed the members of the group showing off their guns and tasers to try to scare those on the opposing side.
That’s when he called the police on those supporting the monument because they were getting out of hand. While on with police, he also confronted the group. The interaction was filmed on Facebook live.
“Your putting my employees at danger out here holding guns. Yes, you are,” he screamed.
The manger said not only was his employees in danger but so were his customers whose ages ranged from older adults to small children. They ended up having to close early that day for the safety of employees and patrons.
As seen on video, a group of officers dispersed to both sides of the street to ask everyone to leave the premises.
The video shows about three officers confronting the counter-protesters while onlookers on the opposing side stood near the street. More officers confronted them also forcing them to stand back and leave.
“The cops were called and we were told we had to leave even though we were being peaceful,” Frisby said. “There were a bunch of cops that brought out mace and it wasn’t right.”
Samuel Hux was also among the group members that was asked to leave. He said everything happened so quickly and they couldn’t understand why. Although they weren’t sprayed with mace, they thought it was unnecessary to use and they said they felt their first amendment rights were being violated.
“It’s our right to peacefully protest,” Hux said. “We have the right to do what we do as long as it’s peaceful.”
Chief Kenny Hickman said the police intervened to prevent an escalation of violence and people were able to return to peaceful protest afterwards, though, Hux and Frisby said the police were only forceful with them and not the other group who they say started the incident.
“The way police came at us was completely wrong,” Hux said. “We were very shaken up after what happened.”
Hux would’ve liked the police to handle the situation better by asking them nicely to leave instead of doing so aggressively. They say they’re trying to keep the protests peaceful.
“It just hurts my feelings to realize how many people in El Dorado are racist and how they have such animosity towards people strictly because of their skin color and towards people who are standing up for what they feel is right,” Frisby said.
Despite the interaction they say they don’t plan on backing down.
“We’re not going to stop until there’s peace back in this community whether the statue is up or not we just want the racism gone because that’s not what our community stands for,” Hux said. “It’s just got to stop.”
If you would like to voice your concern about the whether or not the monument should stay, Quorum court members are accepting written statement until July 10.