Community leaders in an Arkansas region that has struggled with racism and white supremacists over the years are endorsing an effort by the governor and lawmakers to enact a hate crimes law.
The leaders of Harrison and surrounding Boone County signed resolutions Wednesday denouncing bigotry and racism, and urging lawmakers to pass hate crimes legislation.
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson and a bipartisan group of lawmakers earlier this month unveiled a proposal to enhance penalties for crimes motivated by the victim’s race, religion, or other factors.
Harrison and the surrounding region has received negative national attention because of its history with race riots in the early 1900s as well as for being the longtime home of the Ku Klux Klan’s National Leader, Thom Robb, who lives and preaches in a small community about 15 miles from Harrison.
The area has been in the news recently because of a viral video showing individuals cursing and threatening a man holding a “Black Lives Matter” sign at the city’s Walmart, and because of a billboard that has been displayed since 2013 promoting a “white pride” internet radio station (pictured above).
In August, a renewed push to have the billboard removed started with around 8,400 signatures collected. The national online petition to remove the billboard at Change.org has collected almost 171,000 signatures.
The city of Harrison and area leaders are also fighting its national negative image through the Harrison Task Force on Race Relations with local members of the clergy and volunteers. And, according to this 2019 article from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the city has been fighting its image in various ways, including constantly removing Klan references on Harrison’s Wikipedia page.
This article orginated from the Associated Press
Get up-to-date local and regional news along with the latest sports and weather every weekday morning by listening to Gary B. on Ozark Newsline, broadcast from the First Community Bank Newsroom on Arkansas 103.3. White River Now updates are also aired weekday mornings on 93 KZLE, Outlaw 106.5, and yourfm 99.5. Have a news tip or event to promote? Email White River Now at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to like and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Add don’t forget to download the White River Now mobile app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.