Crime in Little Rock. It’s a hot topic. Mayor Mark Stodola bumped into me on the street yesterday afternoon and complained that I won’t cut him a break for positive trends in the city under his leadership, including successful work against crime. Then City Director Stacy Hurst, a candidate for state House, unveiled a campaign thrust today built on fear of crime in Little Rock.
Then came a promised communication from Rev. Benny Johnson, who leads Arkansas Stop the Violence. It’s a grassroots group that has particularly focused on crime in the inner city. I mentioned yesterday that he had a bone to pick with the mayor — whom he’s talked about challenging for re-election — over police response last week to a random gunshot fired near Movies in the Park in the River Market.
Today, Johnson provided a prepared statement:
I hope everyone is having or has had a blessed day. Arkansas Stop the Violence believe every citizen should feel safe in whatever neighborhood that they reside in. Through the media, we saw 50 plus police officers sent to the River Market on Wednesday because shots were fired the week before. We have no problem with that but where are the special operations in the inner city where many shots are fired on a regular occurrence? We have also had 29 homicides and not one time has the city sent out any press releases on how they were going to address this problem or assign any special operations that were made public. [It sent such a news release after the gunshot at the movies.] We feel like the city is showing favoritism because of the area this occurred in. Everyone’s life should be valued the same no matter what area of town they stay in. We are asking the city to prioritize the homicide and shootings that occur in predominately black neighborhoods. If you weigh your options, twenty nine homicides versus one shooting doesn’t take a genius to know where your operations should be. We want to say to Mayor Stodola and City Manager Bruce Moore, that the lack of actions taken by the city administration is a disregard to the homicide victims of violent crimes.
Rev. Benny Johnson and Arkansas Stop the Violence
I’ve asked city officials if they’d like to respond.