It all started out as a normal day. I met my Facility Training Officer at our station, loaded my gear over to his patrol car and got things ready for the shift. I noticed there were more than the usual amount of patrol vehicles parked outside our police station. During our roll call at shift change, our Sergeant advised everyone that there was a protest going on in Little Rock and they were expecting things to get worse at dark. He advised us to make sure we had all our Special Response Team equipment ready to go in case we are needed. I remember thinking to myself, what am I about to experience?
At first, I was nervous— this would be the first major event for me to encounter. A few hours passed and everything was going as expected. Our Special Response Team was activated to assist Little Rock near the State Capitol. The Officers that were on their normal shift continued to stay in our city answering calls. It was approximately 7:00pm that hot June summer evening when our Lieutenant came over the radio and instructed all personnel that were not actively on a call to report to the Broadway bridge.
We were told the protest had turned into a riot, and property was being damaged in Little Rock. We were also told that individuals were throwing objects at Police Officers. As we approached the area, I remember seeing all the blue lights from the patrol vehicles. We began blocking off the roadway and putting on our gear. We were then instructed to go stand on the bridge and hold security.
We were informed that the individuals that were damaging property had plans to proceed over the bridge to our city and destroy the property on our side. At this time, I had my radio turned onto the channel where all the different police departments could talk on the same channel. I remember hearing updates on what was going on over on the Little Rock side. I remember hearing that people were throwing fireworks, pineapples, frozen water bottles, canned goods and other objects at the police. I had this feeling of “this cannot be real” in my head. We all moved up to the middle of the bridge where we were instructed to stage. About an hour passed and updates were continuously being given of the direction that the individuals were going. Once they moved onto Broadway Street, I could see a group of one to two hundred people, hear the noise of chanting, people running in the streets. It was at that moment I realized this is real.
I had sweat dripping in my eyes, uniform soaked from the heat and having all my gear on so long. Not knowing what would happen next, I was nervous. I can remember thinking as the crowd got closer to the bridge, let them turn and not come this way. As they approached the bridge, they began to move back towards the State Capitol, where they originally started. At approximately 10:00pm or so, the Lieutenant once again came over the radio and advised us that we were in the clear and could return to our normal duties. The ones destroying the property began to disperse and everything was under control.
After I got everything situated back in the patrol car, I drove over to the Little Rock side to see what damage was done. I remember seeing windows on buildings busted out, spray painting on buildings and vehicles, glass and other trash scattered out in the streets. It looked like a scene from a movie. Hopefully I will not ever have to experience something like that again but if I do, I now know what to expect and will be more mentally prepared for it.