FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Outrage over the death of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis has sparked protests around the country. One of those demonstrations taking place in Fort Smith, Sunday afternoon.
“I’m angry that this continues to happen, I’m angry that it took days of rioting for the police officer to be arrested,” said Layla Holloway the organizer.
“There is one country and two systems we have a criminal system for white people and you have a criminal injustice system for black people the system was never built for us,” said Joel Releford one of over a hundred demonstrators who came out Sunday.
They say they’re calling for justice for George Floyd, a black man who stated he couldn’t breathe as a police officer kneeled on his neck. he later died.
“I have a father, I have uncles and I don’t that to be one of them,” said Holloway.
Sandy Hartgraves also came out to support the protest. “I fear for my husband’s life. He is a black man who I’ve been married to for over 30 years.”
“What’s important for me is about spreading awareness. I think that spreading awareness with signs and standing on a lawn on a very busy road in fort smith is one of the best ways to get that out,” said Holloway.
Fort Smith City Director Neal Martin said he wants to let demonstrators know he hears them and the city supports them.
“It kinds of just opens your eyes to some of the things that I don’t have to deal with but others do. We as leaders got to make sure that it doesn’t happen here where we are, in our state and ultimately in our country.” Martin said the events have sparked conversations within the city about how they police and interact with their community.
During the protest, Aric Mitchel with the Fort Smith police said a man with a knife was stopped at 58th and Rogers. He was arrested on a suspended license and it will be up to prosecutors to decide if he will face charges involving the knife.
Mitchel says no one was hurt.