Monday night's demonstration at the State Capitol Brian Chilson

The Arkansas Public Policy Panel, a nonprofit that works for social justice, issued a statement Tuesday night saying it was “sickened” by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others and calling on Governor Hutchinson to convene a “Blue Ribbon Commission on Racial Equity.” The nonprofit also cited changes that need to happen to restore confidence in the police:

  • Mandated citizen review committees in all jurisdictions that are strong, independent, and have authority, to add a layer of transparency and accountability to law enforcement.

  • A citizen review of police use of force policies and standardizing these policies across jurisdictions.

  • Increase the use of community policing and de-escalation tactics. We need to make sure law enforcement has the training, resources, and accountability to do this right.

  • End the reliance on military-style tactics, equipment, and training in law enforcement [a measure that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called for today].

  • Cultural competency training and unconscious bias training for all law enforcement officers and members of the criminal justice system.

  • Accountability for police officers who use excessive force or participate in racial targeting. We need law enforcement to take responsibility for weeding out their bad actors instead of protecting them.

  • Create a national database of disciplinary actions taken against law enforcement officers, like there are for many other professions, so a police officer fired in one jurisdiction can’t simply move a few miles down the road and resume the same bad actions.

The panel goes on to list other injustices: A lack of health care in the black community, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. Inequitable education funding. A 2-to-1 racial inequity on income and 10-to-1 gap in wealth, such as stocks and homeownership.

At Monday’s press conference on the nightly protests, which have been marred by late-night marauders doing mischief to property, Hutchinson was asked what steps he could take to calm the situation. “I don’t think anyone wants to hear solutions from me,” Hutchinson said, saying that listening was what was needed now. Asked if he would stand on the steps of the Capitol, as Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller did after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, to signal his support, he said there was a “time and place for that.” He didn’t say what circumstances might prompt him to take an action like Rockefeller’s.