SHOWING SUPPORT: Supporters of Bradley Blackshire and his family wait for Tuesday evening's board of directors meeting to begin. The chamber was standing-room only by the time the meeting began. REBEKAH HALL

At Tuesday evening’s board of directors meeting, family and friends of Bradley Blackshire, who was fatally shot by LRPD Officer Charles Starks after a traffic stop on Feb. 22, gathered to call for “accountability and justice” for Blackshire’s death.  Video here.

Twenty-one people spoke during the citizen communication portion of the board meeting. Citizen communication is normally allotted only 30 minutes on the board’s agenda, but Mayor Frank Scott Jr. extended the time to let Blackshire’s supporters speak. Blackshire’s five children were present at the meeting, and family and friends of Blackshire wore t-shirts emblazoned with “Young Gifted and Black #JusticeForBradley.”

The board of directors was frequently asked, “What if this was your child?” by Blackshire’s supporters. Blackshire’s mother, Kimberly Blackshire-Lee, and his father, DeAngelo Lee, shared emotional calls for “change in the city now.”

“It’s not going to get better,” Blackshire-Lee said, her voice wavering. “It’s only going to get worse.”
Several community members criticized the board of directors for not reaching out to the family after Blackshire’s death, noting Ken Richardson, city director of Ward 2, as an exception. Ward 5 City Director Lance Hines was absent. Many supporters told the board of directors they had campaigned for them and voted for them in past elections, but they did not feel the board had taken enough action to “bring Officer Starks to justice.”

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Rizelle Aaron, former president of the Arkansas Chapter of the NAACP and Blackshire’s uncle, told directors to use their influence and connections to help bring about the arrest and conviction of Officer Charles Starks in Blackshire’s murder.

“In the event Starks is not charged, we are going to do everything possible to hold the city accountable,” Aaron said. “That’s not a threat. That’s a guarantee.”

Scott told the directors and the audience that he’s moving forward with “accountability, clarity and transparency,” saying “we have to do more than just saying that we are saying prayers, we have to move toward action.”

“What does action look like?” he asked. “Action looks like, on Friday, I should have on my desk … our first citizen review board ordinance that we’ll bring before the board of directors to be voted on.”


Supporters left the meeting at the conclusion of the citizen commentary portion, and they chanted “No justice, no peace” as they filed out.

Before the citizen commentary at the meeting, city directors voted to approve an ordinance allowing the city to enter into an $80,000 contract with Canvas Community Church for a pilot program to help people experiencing homelessness called A Bridge To Work. The program, modeled after the There’s A Better Way program in Albuquerque, N.M., is an effort to eliminate panhandling and help the homeless community by providing people experiencing homelessness with opportunities to work on city beautification efforts and be paid for their labor. Participants will receive $9 an hour to help clean up parks and other areas of the city. In addition to receiving a lunch and a paycheck for their work at the end of the day, participants will have access to mental and physical health screenings, job training, mental health counseling and other social services made available at Canvas Community Church, which has partnered with the city for the program.

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Paul Atkins, associate pastor at Canvas Community Church, told directors the program hopes to make an “immediate and long-term impact on the homeless community in Little Rock.”

When speaking with press after the meeting, Scott also shared that pending the cooperation of human resources procedure, he will announce his selection for Little Rock’s next police chief this week. The four finalists for the position are retired LAPD commander Todd Chamberlain, LRPD Assistant Chief Hayward Finks, Norman, Okla., Police Chief Keith Humphrey, and LRPD Assistant Chief Alice Fulk.