City of Little Rock notified of FS attorney's demands to have historic monuments reinstalled
Fort Smith attorney Joey McCutchen is seeking to have the city of Little Rock reinstall three historical monuments that were removed from their original locations in 2020.
McCutchen sent a notification letter today to Thomas Carpenter, city attorney for the city of Little Rock, in an effort to have the Capitol Guards monument, the David O. Dodd marker and the Children of Confederacy marker returned and restored to their original sitea, citing a newly passed piece of legislation.
McCutchen cites Senate Bill 553, which became Act 1003 and was passed with an emergency clause, during the 2021 legislative session.
Subtitled the "Arkansas State Capitol and Historical Monument Protection Act", the legislation states "The State Capitol shall not be vandalized, damaged, destroyed, or otherwise disturbed." and "A historical monument shall not be relocated, vandalized, damaged, destroyed, removed, altered, renamed, rededicated, or otherwise disturbed."
McCutchen says violation of the law is a Class A misdemeanor if the value of the property is more than $500.00. He also says the law, just recently put into effect, provides provisions for protection for the monuments removed in 2020.
"If the Capitol Guards monument, the David O. Dodd marker and the Children of Confederacy marker are not promptly returned to its original location or the law is not otherwise complied with, I intend to file suit to seek a mandatory injunction to compel the City of Little Rock to comply with Act 1003" wrote McCutchen. "We are also researching whether an illegal exaction suit is appropriate in light of the fact that Little Rock chose ( wrongfully in our opinion) to redirect funds from the park easement to the Daisy Bates statue."
The removal of the mnuments took place in July 2020 as a backlash reaction by Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott as part of the "dialogue" about racism after the death of George Floyd. The narrative surrounding his death led to the removal of a number of long established histoical monuments across the nation.
Scott had a monument and bench dedicated to the memory of Dodd and a bronze statue honoring a Civil War militia unit from Pulaski County, known as "Memorial to Company A, Capitol Guards", removed from the city owned McArthur Park.
The third monument McCutchen references, the "Children of the Confederacy" memorial was also removed at Scott's behest.
Another David O. Dodd memorial is a monument which was erected at the Old State House in Little Rock in 1923 to honor the heroism of Dodd.
The monument was originally located in front of the central temple of the Old State House. It was later moved to the southwestern corner of the lawn and finally relocated to the memorial garden just east of the museum.
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 26, 1996.A spokesperon at the Old State House said on Wednesday that there are no plans to remove any monuments at that site.