Civil Rights Leaders Rally As Companies Are Deliberate For White Officer-Slain Teen

A memorial service is scheduled for Friday night in Beebe, Ark, the day after a sergeant from the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office was fired for shooting a 17-year-old at a traffic stop. The funeral for the white McRae, Ark The teeanger, Hunter Brittain, is slated for Tuesday, with nationally renowned civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton expected to speak.

Sheriff John Staley announced in a video posted on social media Thursday that Sgt. Michael Davis had been fired for violating the department’s guidelines by not turning on his body camera prior to meeting Brittain. Meanwhile, the district prosecutor is asking a special prosecutor to determine whether the former officer is being prosecuted.

The teen’s uncle, Jesse Brittain, said he was unarmed with a can of antifreeze in hand after working on his truck when he was shot three times by Davis. The family chose to be represented in court by attorneys Benjamin Crump and Devon M. Davis, who have handled several high profile civil rights cases such as the Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery cases.

Most recently, the lawyers represented the family of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nine minutes. The former officer involved in the incident, Derek Chauvin, was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 22 years in prison last week.

Crump released a statement Thursday night following Staley’s announcement of the deputy sacking approving the sheriff’s actions.

“Body cameras, in the vast majority of cases, are the only way to see the unbiased facts related to a police-civilian clash that resulted in injuries and / or death. When officers turn off their body cameras, they also turn off their intent to be transparent, ”the statement said.

The attorneys aren’t the only civil rights advocates speaking out on the case of the Arkansas white teenager. The Jacksonville, Ark. The National Association of the Advancement of Colored People expressed condolences to Brittain’s family and friends and promised to stand by them in their struggle for justice upon his death.

The sheriff’s office says the teen was pulled over for a traffic stop at around 3 a.m. on June 23 on Arkansas 89, south of Cabot. The stop led to Sgt. Davis unloading his gun while the teenager dies in a hospital in North Little Rock.

That evening, about 200 people gathered outside the Lonoke County Sheriff’s office to protest the shooting. Chants of “No Justice, No Peace” could be heard from the crowd.

Reginald Ford, vice president of the NAACP chapter, said in an interview with KUAR News Thursday that he believed the predominantly white crowd, using chant often heard by George Floyd during demonstrations, was appropriate given Brittain’s situation .

“That doesn’t bother us at all. We don’t have a problem with that because – justice – is not tied to just one group of people, ”said Ford.

When asked why the NAACP felt the need to get involved in Brittain’s case since the deceased is a white teenager, Ford said it was all about justice.

“I think the premise is that the NAACP only cares about justice when it comes to minorities, and that’s not true,” said Ford. “I think that’s an idea that has been promoted too much. We are concerned with justice regardless of who it is. There is no real difference, really. “

A press release from the group said members are monitoring the situation and reassured that authorities say the death is being thoroughly investigated. “We’re with Hunter Brittain’s family. As a civil rights organization, justice is of paramount importance for all people regardless of race, ”the press release said.

Sheriff Staley said in an exclusive interview on Wednesday that he welcomed the NAACP’s involvement in the family’s hunt for justice.

“You want the same thing as me. I want to do the right thing and not the easy thing. So we immediately called the state police to conduct an investigation, ”said Staley.

On the night of the shooting, Staley was seen outside talking to protesters and members of Brittain’s family. The next day, the crowd in front of the sheriff’s office had grown and some protesters had become more hostile and had burnouts in the parking lot. However, Staley says things have calmed down since then, although nighttime protests continue.

“The family suffers and grieves and they want the same answers as me. But yeah, things have calmed down, ”said Staley.

In addition to rumors running amok on social media, many comments on how the protesters were dealt with were made through the sheriff’s office.

Some people have concluded that if the protesters had been black, the sheriff may not have treated the protesters as peacefully as the white protesters. When asked about it, Staley simply said, “That’s not true.”

“This process would be the same. We just want everyone to be peaceful. I know people are hurt. It has nothing to do with race. It has to do with right and wrong, ”said Staley. “It doesn’t matter who is out here. I welcome you to sit here. I welcome them to gather together, to be heard, and I just want them to do so without tearing things up and without violence. “

When asked if the NAACP press release meant that the problem of police injustice was no longer a matter of color, Ford said, “Injustice has no color that we can attribute to it.”

“It is mostly geared towards minorities. Poor whites in poor communities and color communities are all derogatory when it comes to police interactions. There is always an element of race, but there is always an element of class. You can’t make everything one thing, ”said Ford.

According to the teenager’s obituary, the funeral will take place on Friday from 6pm to 8pm at the Smith-Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe. The Tuesday funeral is scheduled for Tuesday, July 6th at 12:30 p.m. in the Beebe Schools auditorium.

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