The situation in Gould that we reported on earlier today has taken a turn for the worse. Gould Mayor Earnest Nash was assaulted tonight by someone he says was in support of city council members who passed ordinances he opposed. Fox 16 is all over it. Follow this link for their reporting. Bill Kopsky of the Arkansas Public Policy Council sent out an email earlier this evening describing what happened on the scene. That email is on the jump. According to Fox 16:
Nash said that there was multiple city council members present at the time of his attack.
Mayor Nash described the incident in a live interview on Fox 16. During the interview, Councilman Sonya Farley drove up and confronted Nash. During the argument, Farley had to be restrained and taken away from Nash. As Farley was being taken away, Nash said that the car she drove up in was also present during his attack.
I'm sad to update you that the situation in Gould turned violent tonight. 3 city council members plus 2 other individuals allegedly assaulted Mayor Nash - including pistol whipping him. Mayor Nash sustained cuts to his head and was taken to a hospital in Dumas, but at this time does not appear to have more serous injuries. The assault started in front of the local gas station and continued to another location. State police are on the scene investigating and details are still emerging.
We stand with the residents of Gould and the members of the Gould Citizens Advisory Council in condemning this violence and calling for unity in Gould to build a stronger community. We know that the VAST majority of Gould residents are deeply committed to their community and a fair, peaceful democratic process — this violence is the action of a few deranged individuals. It's a tragedy that this incident casts a negative light on Gould and it should be said plainly that this type of crazy violence does not represent the city or its residents. We call for a full investigation by state police and a full prosecution of guilty parties.
As many of you know, the Gould Citizens Advisory Council (GCAC) has been improving Gould for a number of years. They have opened community centers, brought in state election monitors to improve local elections, helped improve the local water system, created neighborhood watch and neighborhood clean up campaigns and have worked to improve their school.
GCAC has also held candidate forums for city council and mayor, and developed a citizen platform for the city that calls on public officials to maintain high ethical standards, improve the city finances, improve city government openness and effectiveness, and to develop a long-range strategic plan for improving the city. Holding city officials accountable for this platform has led 4 city council members to take offense to GCAC's activities — culminating in the city council passing a series of unconstitutional resolutions that ban GCAC from "existing" within city limits, among other things. The Arkansas Times has coverage today of the ACLU intervening in the situation on behalf of residents. Residents of Gould and GCAC also filed a lawsuit this week to remove two city council members from office who violated election laws in running for office — one councilman is a convicted felon and the other does not live in the ward she was elected to represent.
It goes without saying that citizens standing up for their rights should not be subject to unconstitutional city ordinances, election dirty tricks and violence.
The Panel is proud of the residents of Gould for standing together against the public abuse and neglect the city has suffered - and we know that they will lead their city, united, to a far better future.
GCAC is one of the Panel's strongest community organizing partners and their chair Curtis Mangrum is co-Chair of the Panel Board. They are also an anchor member of the Arkansas Citizens First Congress and Mayor Nash serves on the CFC Steering Committee.