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Arkansas Republicans on Charlottesville, Trump's response and Confederate monuments

From the congressional delegation, constitutional officers and state legislators.

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CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION

The following statements were sent after inquiry or taken from social media. None of Arkansas’s members of Congress allowed specific questions via email or phone.

Sen. John Boozman (R)
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Statement on Charlottesville taken from Boozman’s Twitter (he did not respond to inquiry):

The violence & hatred in #Charlottesville is unacceptable. Bigotry has no place in our society. We solve our problems by working together.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R)

Statement on Charlottesville taken from Cotton’s website (he did not respond to inquiry):

I'm currently traveling in the Balkans, where the long, violent history of ethnic supremacism still stalks the land and is a reminder of how unique America is. White supremacists who claim to “take America back” only betray their own ignorance of what makes America so special: our country's founding recognition of the natural rights of all mankind and commitment to the defense of the rights of all Americans. These contemptible little men do not speak for what is just, noble, and best about America. They ought to face what they would deny their fellow citizens: the full extent of the law.

4th District Congressman Bruce Westerman (R)

Statement on Charlottesville emailed to the Times on inquiry:

Neo-Nazism and white supremacy are reprehensible belief systems that are steeped in hate and adorned with evil actions throughout history. The actions of people who ascribe to these belief systems are contrary to everything I've learned in my Christian faith and are an affront to basic morality and the underpinnings of America.

3rd District Congressman Steve Womack (R)

Statement on Charlottesville emailed to the Times on inquiry:

There is no place in America for bigotry or hatred of any kind. Groups that harbor this type of ideology — specifically people who associate themselves with groups related to white supremacy, white nationalism, or neo-Nazism — are not only on the wrong side of history, but also at odds with the founding and sustaining maxim of our nation that all men are created equal. It is absolutely unacceptable.

2nd District Congressman French Hill (R)

Statement on Charlottesville taken from Hill’s website (he did not respond to inquiry):

During World War II, my father-in-law helped to liberate Buchenwald concentration camp. He bore witness to Nazi terror — a terror that started with an ideology of hate and superiority based upon race and creed. He and so many other Americans and Allies fought against that ideology, which was an affront to American values and continues to have no place in our civil society. I reject, in the strongest terms possible, the speech of hate and bigotry of white supremacists and others. It's repugnant and un-American. I condemn acts of domestic terror as the tools of cowards. Let's pray for civil discourse in our country, and my thoughts are with the community, those hurt, and those grieving over loss and injury.

1st District Congressman Rick Crawford (R)

Statement on Charlottesville taken from Crawford’s Twitter (he did not respond to inquiry):

White supremacy ideology is totally incompatible with the dearest beliefs we hold as Americans. #Charlottesville

My thanks to the officers who aided and responded, and my heart is with the victims and their families. #Charlottesville

ARKANSAS CONSTITUTIONAL OFFICERS

Governor Hutchinson

On Charlottesville:

Every generation must affirm and live American values anew. Equal opportunity and respect for all races is fundamental to what is great about our country. The whole concept of white supremacy or neo-Nazi dogma must be rejected at every turn. After the Charlottesville violence I consistently spoke out against the racism and hatred and violence displayed before a national audience.

On Trump’s response:

I am grateful that he clearly denounced white supremacy in very clear terms. But this is a moment that we need our leaders to take every opportunity to educate this generation about the pure evil of Nazism and to bring our country together.

On Confederate monuments:

We cannot change history, but we must learn from it. We should not start taking down monuments just because they remind us of an unpleasant past. Refusing to face our history by dismantling it is a mistake. We should use our historical markers as teaching opportunities to provide greater leadership for the future. Part of the legislation I signed to separate the holidays of Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert E. Lee was to use the history of the Civil War as a teaching opportunity for our students.

Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin

Did not respond to inquiry. The following comments were published on social media and in interviews with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

On Charlottesville:

Reagan said it best in ’84: "We must never remain silent in the face of bigotry. We must condemn those who seek to divide us.” Amen. — Twitter, Aug. 12.

I think that leaders should be unequivocal in their denunciation of the type of white supremacists and racism and these sorts of things that we’ve been seeing. Clearly neo-Nazis and white supremacists are not fine people. Not by my definition. — Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Aug. 18.

There is no one — except my Lord — represented by a statue in Arkansas I would agree with on everything, but that's not a reason to take them down. We can and must learn from our past, not attempt to erase it. — Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Aug. 20

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge

Did not respond to inquiry. The following comments were published on social media and distributed via email.

"The Good Book teaches us to come now, and let us reason together. Violence and hate are not the answer. Praying for #Charlottesville." — Twitter, Aug. 12.

Republican Attorneys General defend the rule of law — and equality under the law for all Americans. Those values are entirely at odds with the views of the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who spewed their hatred in Charlottesville this past weekend. They are cowards who have no place in American society. Hate, racism, and violence of any form is not welcome in our great country. As elected leaders in our respective states, we stand strong against these acts of evil and come together for good and love for one another. Let us not use these horrific displays as a tool to divide us but rather unite us against those who spew such evil. — Statement for RAGA.

Secretary of State Mark Martin

Did not respond to inquiry.

Treasurer Dennis Milligan

Did not respond to inquiry.

Auditor Andrea Lea

On Charlottesville:

No matter the name under which cowards gather, evil is evil and it has no place in the country I love. I believe all Americans have the opportunity to pursue happiness, regardless of creed or color. The events in Charlottesville are a direct attack on this pursuit and it should not be tolerated. Any deviation from the direct condemnation of these intolerable acts of hate and bigotry is an act of injustice itself.

Land Commissioner John Thurston

(Has announced his candidacy for secretary of state).

On Charlottesville:

My reaction to the violence in Charlottesville was sorrowful. It grieved my heart to see Americans treating one another with such detestation to the point of violence. Americans are above this; we have overcome this in the past and we will again. We cannot allow small groups to divide us all.

On Trump’s response:

President Trump’s response is only suitable or unsuitable by the observation or viewpoint of the individual’s perspective. Was his response enough for me? Yes, for now, but more should be said. Respecting the individual and the rights of each individual is lacking in our nation, also in the expression of one’s individual rights, it should not impede another’s individual liberties.

On Confederate monuments:

The Arkansas Democratic Party is grandstanding and continuing to play identity politics. Exploiting a tragic event in our nation for the purpose of political gain is almost as saddening as the event itself. The opinion of a monument is the same as one’s perspective of Trump’s response: It depends on one’s viewpoint. To one the monument is history, to another it is a dark past. I am hesitant to remove any monument, because we could find ourselves on a slippery slope; however, I am sensitive to the perspective of those who view the monuments as a symbol of oppression.

On the same Capitol grounds, we also find a monument of the Little Rock Nine. A main street that comes right to the Capitol grounds is named Dr. Martin Luther King Drive. Our Capitol grounds and state are filled with history and memories both good and bad. Monuments or the lack thereof will not change the heart. No one said a word about the monuments when Democrats filled the halls of state government.
The Arkansas Democratic Party had over 140 years to take down all the monuments they wanted, but now they want to stir the race pot again, and again, and again. Democrats put the monuments up, then I suppose they can pass laws to take them down.

I am so far past the Civil War.

ARKANSAS STATE SENATE

Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R-Rogers)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Sen. Ronald Caldwell (R-Wynne)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Sen. Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Sen. Linda Collins-Smith (R-Pocahontas)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Sen. John Cooper (R-Jonesboro)

On Charlottesville:

I think there were some extremists who were extremely out of line over there. But I think part of what you're getting at is the commentary made by various people in response to that. … The event itself was a horrendous event. … There's no place in our society for that kind of extremism. There's no place in our society for that kind of extremism, right or left. I think we all don't want anything to do with those groups. We don't seek them in our corner, politically. Somebody made the statement, I think some of the Republican party made the statement that I liked, I believe it was yesterday, that we don't need them, we don't seek their support, and we don't seek their vote.

On Trump’s response:

I think in hindsight, if he'd said something along that line, it probably would have been better for him and everybody else too. I think it would have given better clarity to it, I think. If he had chosen those kind of words to begin with, I think he would have been better off, and maybe the rest of us, too.

If you're really interested in Trump's commentary, I think that was largely blown out of proportion. I think maybe he didn't say it very well, but I think people were looking for a way to misconstrue it too. I don't think he's a racist. I don't think he's a white supremacist supporter. In politics, sometimes, when things are fast moving, you don't always choose the correct words until later, when you've had more time to think about it. I don't fault him entirely for maybe if he didn't say it entirely correct to begin with. I think there was a play on maybe the words that were used maybe the way some of us would have used them if we'd had time to consider each word we say and use. I think there was more made out of it that should have been made out of it.

On Confederate monuments:

I think we have to be very careful about destroying our history. Some of those monuments have a great deal of historical value, and you can look at some of the things that have happened in the Middle East over there where extremists have destroyed their history, a lot of their mosques and stuff that have been there for centuries and centuries. In the heat of the moment, it's very easy to say well, we need to just tear this down and get rid of it. When you think about it from a historical perspective, those things have a lot of historical value. Monuments come about because of a crisis, a conflict, pain, wartime. You can go back to World War I and II. Monuments always come about because of some kind of conflict, and it makes me nervous for people to take the position that just because that's not something we would abide today that we want to destroy the monument itself. In doing that, I am certain we're going to lose some historical value.

Sen. Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale)

On Charlottesville:

The racism and the racist violence was just evil. 1 John 4, I think, says: if you can't love your brother who you have seen, how can you love God, who you haven't seen? There's just no place for that. Having said that, there's no place for that at all. We've got people the next day, wanting to tear down a Teddy Roosevelt statue in New York, and the next day, wanting the Washington statue in Chicago changed. Have we lost our minds? I think there's a side to this that people aren't looking at. I despise David Duke and the rabble-rousers like him. But if we were so insensitive and so mean-spirited that someone would want to rename Martin Luther King Expressway around Hot Springs or take down a monument [to King], can you imagine the people who would show up? The people who show up when you start doing that type of thing are not the reasonable people. You get the people out on the fringes who are violent and don't have very good control of themselves. There's more than one thing going on there. But the racist element of it is just despicable.

I have no way of knowing [whether both sides were equally responsible]. I haven't studied it. If I was there, I might say this group is mostly responsible or this group was responsible and you should listen to me because I was there and I'm a pretty level-headed guy. But I wasn’t there. I don't know.

On Trump's response:

As much as I run my mouth, it's probably not appropriate for me to speak on the appropriateness of any other public official's comment. Having said that, he probably could have said less. That's often the case. He could have done better. But I think for those who are going to be unhappy with him regardless, you can take what he said and run wild with it. I think if you listen — and keep in mind, in the primaries, Trump wasn't my first choice, he wasn't my second choice, he wasn't in my top 15. Having said that, I really think he's trying to do a good job, and I think some of the people that dislike him and are opposed to him, it doesn't matter what he does. Not that he doesn’t do some things on his own to keep it going. I try to stay out of it. When two groups are going to fight with one another, I'm like a lot of the rest of the population: I've gotten to where I don't even watch the national news much. I used to watch it every night. I can't stand this crap anymore. Whoever is to blame, and I think I speak for a whole lot of people, I'm tired of it. I think he tried to be fair. I can see how people with another state of mind see it differently. Good people can see it differently. I would have handled it differently, I'll say that.

The last president could have done better; this president could do better when it comes to healing some of these things. There are some people who don't want to take part in that. But somebody ought to come out, people on both sides, and say: This crap needs to stop. We've got people on the right pointing at the Black Lives Matter movement and talking about how bad they are, while not acknowledging anything on our side. Then we've got people on their side pointing at neo-Nazis and David Duke and so on, and not acknowledging anything on their side. We need true leadership to stand up on both sides and say: Our side needs to stop it. Both could have done it.

On Confederate monuments:

My great-great granddad is buried down in Southeast Arkansas, and he has a bronze cross on his grave. Is that offensive? I come back to, what do you want me to do? My parents from Southeast Arkansas raised me not to have a racist bone in my body and to help everybody in every way that I can and to stand up. There are a lot of cases where I would be right there with the more left wing [protestors] standing and marching. But if you come back and say I ought to be ashamed because I'm a Southerner, we've got a whole other discussion to have.

Absolutely they should stay up. I've got a lady whose skin color happens to be black, who lives in Benton. She lives on Dixie Street, and calls me every so often. She says it better than anybody else: She says, “The name of my street is Dixie Street. They want to change it. I don't want my address changed.” We don't need to rewrite history. We need to put it behind us and move on.

The Confederate flag, when I was a kid and up through adulthood, it was a sign of the South. It was a sign of Southern pride. You'd be at a football game, and "Sweet Home Alabama" would play, and out would come the Confederate flags, and half the people at that game waving those flags were black. These people that make me ashamed that are saying the things they say and doing the things they do and waving that flag, I want to take it away from them. But that said, I put that aside. I put that back. Because there are people who I love who think that's a sign of racism. If you're white, I don't really care. But it's my black brothers, that there's some who think that's what it really is, so I put that aside. But let's not go for the monument thing. Now we're going to Jefferson and Washington? It's just insanity.

Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy)

Did not respond to Arkansas Times’ inquiry, but told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that while he still supports President Trump’s policies, he was “disappointed” with his response to the events in Charlottesville. He was quoted as saying, “I do not think that’s becoming of the presidency.”

Sen. Lance Eads (R-Springdale)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock)

No comment.

Sen. Jake Files (R-Fort Smith)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Sen. Scott Flippo (R-Bull Shoals)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Sen. Trent Garner (R-El Dorado)

I’m good today. Thank you so much.

Sen. Jim Hendren (R-Sulphur Springs)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs)

On Charlottesville:

I think it’s anytime you have riots, there’s some people being ridiculous and some people reacting too hard to a few people and absurd behavior. It was unfortunate and hopefully we can move on.

On Trump’s response:

I haven’t followed much of about what the president said. He says a lot of things to elicit response. From what I’ve seen, the things he’s said have elicited response. I do think it’s ridiculous to think he’s a supporter of those groups at all. I’ve seen clips of him 17 years ago and even now saying he renounces the hate groups. So I don’t think there’s any validity at all that he’s supportive of them.

On Confederate monuments:

I would not [support removal or relocation of Confederate monuments]. Look, if you act like history didn’t happen, you’re doomed to repeat it. We’ve heard it our whole lives. I think it’s a fair example to hopefully teach our children about why it was a sad time in the history of America.

Sen. Jimmy Hickey Jr. (R-Texarkana)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R-Little Rock)

On Charlottesville:

[The white nationalist march] was revolting. I don’t think [white supremacists] are increasing, but maybe they’re more vocal.

On Trump’s response:

I loved [Governor Hutchinson’s] immediate response. I don’t think it’s a time to be nuanced. [I think the actions of the Unite the Right in Charlottesville] should be condemned full-throatedly, unequivocally.

I wish [Trump] had said less. Just condemned it. … I can’t divine what’s going through his mind.

On Confederate monuments:

I think it’s a fine line [the decision to remove Confederate symbols]. There are cannonballs on the lawn of the Capitol at South Carolina and that’s where the cannonballs were shot through. That’s historical and should be preserved. But if it inflames, there’s not place for it. It should be decided on a case by case basis scenario. … Certainly a Confederate flag flying over the Capitol dome is too much.

Sen. Missy Irvin (R-Mountain View)

Did not respond to inquiry. The following are social media posts that address Charlottesville.

Freedom of Speech — the 1st Amendment. There is a lot of things on both sides I don't like to see or hear, but it's called freedom. — Twitter, Aug. 12.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness ... why can't we see that our freedoms are to pursue these things? Not hatred, not destruction! — Twitter, Aug. 13.

Sen. Blake Johnson (R-Corning)

On Charlottesville:

It’s terrible that somebody would have that much hatred to run through a crowd of people like that. I support the right of citizens to assemble peaceably. I think there was confusion within the group that was protesting; I think there were two groups there protesting the removal.

On Trump’s response:

I’m sure he knows more about it than what I do.

On Confederate monuments:

You can’t remove symbols and erase history. You’re either going to learn [history] or [be] doomed to repeat it.

I can see where it would be offensive [to some]. [But] it’s a learning opportunity. Someone’s always going to be offended. Like World War II memorials to Japanese Americans. It would be a pretty bland world [if all controversial monuments were removed.]

Sen. Bryan King (R-Green Forest)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)

Did not respond to inquiry. The following are social media posts that address Charlottesville.

On Charlottesville:

With all the commentary we are seeing on hatred, I am reminded of some things God says He hates as well: Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. — Facebook, Aug. 14

On Confederate monuments:

Who's next — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin? Don't be fooled by the rhetoric. These radical groups want to tear the whole country down. That is their stated goals. Pray for America to turn back to God. — Facebook, Aug. 15.

I have condemned racism, white supremacy and all forms of hate speech against innocent people many times over in my life and throughout my years in public service. Opposition to racism is a completely different matter than the location and preservation of historical monuments, statues and markers. — Facebook, Aug. 18.

Taking down historical monuments and markers serves no legitimate purpose but is rather being used to stir up racial tensions for the benefit of radical extremist groups who are manipulating this issue in the current political environment.

Contrary to the Arkansas Democrat [sic] Party's public announcement, I do not support any effort to remove monuments from the Arkansas Capitol grounds or other public grounds, including monuments which may reference those who died in our state during the Civil War fighting for the Confederacy. This is a part of our history — though a very sad part of the story of our nation and state. We should continue to study and learn from our mistakes and ensure we never have such conflict in our nation again.

I urge peace and calm for everyone in our country. We cannot let the actions of a few cause us all to fall into strife and discord. We must think of our children's future and remain unified together as Americans no matter the color of our skin.” — Facebook, Aug. 18

In response to the state Democratic Party’s position on taking down Confederate monuments: Interesting. The Arkansas Democrat Party established segregation in Arkansas after Reconstruction ended. They crushed the new rights gained by former slaves in our state and maintained their death grip on our state with an unbeatable majority until 2012 when Republicans won their first majority in the legislature in 138 years. It is well known that Democrats primarily formed the KKK and kept it alive. Democrats and the infamous democrat governor Orval Faubus caused the 1957 Little Rock Central High School crisis by refusing to allow black students to attend.

Terrible history. Terrible bunch of people. Why don't the Arkansas Democrats just recommend to abolish themselves and do us all a favor for all the hell they have put our state through? Make it a clean sweep. — Facebook, Aug. 17.

Sen. Terry Rice (R-Waldron)

On Charlottesville:

I think any violent people are a terrible thing, should not be tolerated. I deplore hate, I deplore violence. … Hate from anybody is not to be tolerated. But, just to not even see things covered by the general media that you see happen and then to see all in on one particular thing. … I think what I’m seeing out of the media is nitpicking and hand-wringing to one side of coverage.

On Trump’s response:

I think anybody who listened to his whole statement understands what he is saying. I’m not defending the way he handles statements, because it could’ve done better. … Everyone including myself who is an elected official is on notice [for better statements] … There are extremes both ways. I have just seen so one-sided news, that’s just, they can’t wait to pounce. Anybody from either side that’s got bats and weapons; they’ve got that to strike.

… “I don’t think anybody should be giving homage to slavery or white supremacy or anything else. But, when I heard Black Lives Matter talk about killing cops, it is deplorable. I wish I saw as much correction for that.

On Confederate monuments:

I wouldn’t [be in favor of taking down Confederate monuments]. You can’t remove that stuff to keep hate from happening. … You’re talking about where’s the end. Even though I don’t agree with some of the stuff [Trump] says: Where’s the end? Go remove George Washington? Jefferson? … [Confederate soldiers] on the battlefield, their bones were picked at by the vultures, and they never received a decent burial. The only way their families had to honor them was through memorials. … I call out any party, either party, that doesn’t do right. The fact is this history is real. And, there were deplorable things done in the South after the war even, and taking down monuments doesn’t take anything away from how terrible slavery was. I know [the monuments] mean different things to different people. … I really give homage to some of my colleagues that are of my age and older. Like John Walker, we butted heads but I consider him a friend. They have lived through times that I can’t even imagine. To me, it’s a heightened sensitivity for them. Some I think want to use it more than what they actually lived it. … I hope that is not where we are going in Little Rock. I think that the dead that never got a decent burial from the South, for whatever reason, they fought for the families, deserve a place in history.

Sen. Bill Sample (R-Hot Springs)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Sen. David J. Sanders (R-Little Rock)

On Charlottesville:

I think it’s awful, I think it’s atrocious. What you see embodied in the alt-right and those folks is just wrong; it’s un-American. And for me as a practicing, as a Christian, to have any hint of racism, along any lines, runs contrary to the Gospel.

On Trump’s response:

I think when you see injustice — when you see the things that we’ve seen — I think it is imperative that all elected officials speak out in very clear and straightforward terms. To the extent that anyone has vacillated I don’t think that’s acceptable. That includes the president down to a state senator. … There is absolutely zero equivocation on my part: This has no place in Arkansas, no place in our country.

On Confederate monuments:

Here’s the thing: I think we should work over time to look at things outside of our own perspective. For instance, you can look at — we have obviously confederate monument at the Capitol, we have a designation on the star on the flag and there are other things. And, I know some of those have defended it in terms of historical preservation and heritage. As far as I’m concerned, you need to look beyond your own perspective. … I think for an African American to look at symbols of the Confederacy, it would be impossible to look at any other way than it is, and it was, and for many it still represents a belief of a time and culture when they weren’t even viewed as fully human. … I think we should take a long, hard look at this. If it means changing the designation of the star on the state flag? We might change the designation on the state flag. I think it should be on the table.

Sen. Greg Standridge (R-Russellville)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R-Branch)

Did not respond to inquiry. The following was taken from social media.

We are losing the ability to maintain law and order either intentionally or permissively. Without security you lose freedom. #anarchy. — Twitter, Aug. 18.

Sen. David Wallace (R-Leachville)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot)

Did not respond to inquiry.

ARKANSAS STATE HOUSE

Rep. Bob Ballinger (R- Berryville)

On Charlottesville:

It's a heartbreaking incident. … You see a group of people who showed up with the intent to demonstrate and do battle. And when that happened, you had someone who was so keyed up that he was willing to commit murder, and frankly commit murder on a massive scale. He decided he was going to drive into a crowd of people. He's not been convicted, so you hate to do that until all the evidence comes down, but everything I've seen looks like it was intentional homicide.

On Trump's response:

One thing that I would say that he's guilty of is not always communicating in the way he should be communicating. There's no doubt about that. That's the nature of our president. I would say that I think Governor Hutchinson's statement was probably spot on, and I would say that President Trump's statement that he released Tuesday was spot on. His second statement was correct. I think there's no doubt — nobody, I don't think anybody would argue — that the intent and activity on either side was perfectly pure.

Surely nobody would make that argument. The problem with even speaking about Antifa or the other protest groups, in reference to Charlottesville, is it minimizes the travesty of the fact that a person felt like it's OK to drive into a crowd of people who are expressing their First Amendment Rights. …

What I would say is, I wish, early on, the president would have done more to push away the alt-right, the white supremacists, who were wrongly embracing him. I wish he would have done more to separate himself from that group. I think it was probably a mistake on his part. I think he looked at the statement he issued on Tuesday and it's clear he's not coddling those people. He condemned them very strongly and blamed them for the incident in Charlottesville. But I wish a year ago he would have done a better job of outing them, and saying: Look, Milo Yiannopoulos is a provocateur who calls Trump “Daddy." He should have said: “No, I'm not your Daddy. I have nothing to do with you.” I wish he would have done that and it would make things a lot easier now. But I think the media and the left are using this and trying to create it as a tool to get political gain, which is extremely offensive to me. I think down the road, what we're talking about is a country that's divided and frankly prepared to fall apart. I think we're pushing people into tribalism and dividing up people. It's causing people to look at their neighbors as their enemies and that's what ends up leading to instability and where great nations fall. My hope is that people will look at hate groups and people who make hateful comments or push hateful policies, and say: That's not me. I'm not accepting that. …

The truth is, Donald Trump is a Manhattanite. He's probably almost apolitical in his views. Obviously he's got some policy choices and things he's wanting to do, but it wasn't that long ago he was giving money to Barack Obama. He isn't the evil demon that everybody is characterizing him as. He's poor at communicating the message I feel he should be communicating as president, but it's not because of an evil ideology he has.

On Confederate monuments:

Just because a person wants to protect a Confederate monument and believes in their Southern heritage and history, it doesn't make them a monster. But also because a person wants to see that same monument come down, they also are not a monster. If we could stop treating each other like we're monsters, then I think we have some hope. …

I would say that, barring any information I don't have, they should remain up. The reason why they should stay up is that they're memorials of history, of legitimate history. If there was some particularly egregious or wicked person that there was a monument of, that's a little bit different.
You don't want to celebrate some people. But less than 10 percent of the people in the South owned slaves. There were hundreds of thousands of people in the South who went to fight in the Civil War. They were motivated by something besides slavery when they did. The North actually made it real clear: They weren't fighting about slavery. In the end, there were a lot of Southerners who did, and but for slavery we might not even have had the Civil War, so I'm not one of the people who will say it was only about state's rights. But it was about so much more. It was very complicated. I think if a person wants to embrace their Southern heritage, they want to have a monument preserved, I don't think it is a great sin for them to decide to do that. Now if it's something that totally racially based and motivated, that changes everything. I think each monument should be taken into consideration, one by one, on its merits and all that. But at the same time, my hope is people will just let a sleeping dog lie, and just let it go. What happened in Charlottesville is a terrible thing, and we don't want to create any sparks to set off a powder keg back here if we can avoid it.

Rep. Sonia Eubanks Barker (R-Smackover)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Rick Beck (R-Center Ridge)

Could not connect after an exchange of phone calls.

Rep. Mary Bentley (R-Perryville)

Said she was "swamped" and couldn't comment until after press time.

Rep. Justin Boyd (R-Fort Smith)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Ken Bragg (R-Sheridan)

On Charlottesville:

I personally don't support the extremist’s actions. I think it's deplorable what happened. Sometime I wonder if, when we have demonstrations like that, it just creates more exposure for those extreme groups, when they get that kind of coverage and opposition groups come out to oppose them. It just seems to heighten the tension. But that's part of our free speech. We have free speech rights, and we need to respect that. But we also need to consider the fact there's results and consequences from those rights.

On Trump’s response:

I think eventually it was. Think it could have been more direct, earlier. I think it should have been a more direct response quicker. I don't agree with [Trump’s response that there were “fine people” on both sides]. I just think he makes statements off the cuff without giving a lot of thought to it, but I don't know anybody who would really, totally agree with that.

On Confederate monuments:

I think they should stay. They're a part of our history. It's not a pleasant history in some respects, but it's still a part of our history. I'm not sure that the removal of a statue is going to change the nature of the way people feel, one way or the other, about what happened in history.

Rep. David Branscum (R-Marshall)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Karilyn Brown (R-Sherwood)

On Charlottesville:

[On whether there was equal culpability among the protesters]: If you're referring to the people who opposed [neo-Nazis and white supremacists] and came out with bats, yes. If you're talking about possibly the peaceable people who were there, no. There might have been some peaceful people. I haven't really been able to get to the nub of what occurred there, but we have the reports about [Antifa]. They're just as treacherous as the others. It takes two to tango. It takes two to take a fight. Now, do I believe in white supremacy and neo-Nazis? Absolutely not. It was so anathema to me that it was disgusting, but they have their free speech rights as well as the other group. But you don't need to resort to violence on either side. Also, I've heard the police should have done a more effective job of keeping the two groups separated so there could not have been that kind of violence. I don't know if there were enough police to accomplish that. There are just too many unknowns here.

On Trump's response:

He's been criticized for not criticizing the neo-Nazis in his first statement, but he plainly said he didn't have all the information he needed when he made his first statement. I think he's clarified things. Is he the best communicator in the world? No. Sometimes his messages are confusing. But I think a person who is looking to find fault will definitely find it. He's just a regular old person who got elected president.

Do you blame Trump’s rhetoric for violence?

No, that's like blaming a mother if her child's a murderer. You can't blame somebody else for your behavior, any more than he can be blamed for the bad behavior there. He didn't start it. That's just ridiculous. I really don't like the attacks on our president.

On Confederate monuments:

I think they need to stay up. For one thing, they're realistic representations of people and we all have our human frailties. That is part of our history. We need to learn from our history. Next thing I know, they're going to be wanting to dig up my great-grandfather's grave because he was in the Confederacy. That was a time in history that we all need to learn from, and we can't armchair quarterback what was in the hearts and minds of everybody out there on the battlefield. I'm sure there were people on the Northern side who did not have the best of reasons for fighting, as well as people on the Southern side. When you are the first country to officially eliminate slavery when it has been a practice for many centuries, even though — I would say — most people in this country were at least nominally Christian. They had to know, whether they were Christian or not, that enslaving another human being was wrong. I'm proud of my country that we did away with it.

Rep. Sarah Capp (R-Ozark)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Frances Cavenaugh (R-Walnut Ridge)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Bruce Coleman (R-Mountainburg)

On Charlottesville:

Like most people, [I believe] it's appalling and a shame that people can't just mind their own business and respect other peoples' rights. I guess there's just no good answer for that kind of behavior. … When you're not there and don't know all the details, it's hard to point all the blame in one direction. I think there was enough going wrong there, enough people doing wrong, on all sides. Sometimes, if you don't agree with something, it's better to just stay away when you're in a no-win situation, particularly in groups like that. If I had a good answer to all that, I would be in a heck of a position with the U.N. or somewhere, wouldn't I? I've always told people: Your rights stop where my nose begins, and sometimes I don't think people on either side respect that. A lot of times, people want to assume that just because they feel this way from their experiences, that somebody else should. Well, their experiences are different. I think we should give people the benefit of the doubt until they show different. Don't get me wrong. I don't think that just because somebody says something that you have to take it. But you can listen to people and not agree, and not be confrontational.

On Trump's response:

Part of the details I don't know. I know the way the press has approached it — a lot of the press — what I fear is, he didn't [go far enough in condemning hate groups]. It's one of those things where doing wrong is wrong, in whatever manner you do it in. I think you know it was very fine for the governor to expand on that and name those groups. Even the president probably doesn’t have as many details in the first few minutes as most of us have a few days after. It's one of those things. Is he avoiding over-speaking until he finds out more details? I don't think he said anything that condoned any of those groups, just because he didn't name them. If you have a problem with your wife, there's probably two sides to it — if you have a wife. What you understand and what she understands are not the same. These groups get in there like that, and it just takes one thrown rock or swung club, and the melee is on.

On Confederate monuments:

I think most of them are there as a reflection of history. People view it different. I don't view them as a threat. But it concerns me, when people do feel like they're upsetting. Sometimes I think they're a good reminder of the past. Experience is what allows you to recognize your mistakes quickly. Sometimes, having those things out there, we tend to judge the people who were in the Civil War on their intent and details that we don't really know about on an individual basis.

Rep. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville)

Did not respond to inquiry. The following were taken from social media.

I denounce any group (whites or any other) claiming supremacy over others. Our country based on principles like liberty, 1person 1vote, etc. — Twitter, Aug. 12.

All violent protests, attacks& targeted killings are horrible. I have a heart for keeping innocent people safe& work to improve #arpx safety — Twitter, Aug. 13.

Rep. Bruce Cozart (R-Hot Springs)

On Charlottesville:

I don't know a whole lot about it other than the clips I've seen. I haven't been able to sit down; I've been real busy this week working. My response is I know there was a white supremacy group … or having a rally, I guess. Then another group protested, and then the two different groups came together and kind of clashed, I guess. I do not condone any kind of racial deals. That's just wrong. We need to get along; we need to do the right thing. But there are always going to be groups that do not get along. I think what happened there is very, very sad. I wish it had never happened, but I think as long as time has gone on, we've had people who have fought against each other, and I guess we're always going to have that. I do not agree with either side, having violence and racial motives against each other.

On Trump's response:

I hate to really say a whole lot against what he said. I didn't hear it directly. I kind of heard some backlash from some. You know, President Trump is his own man. He's a different creature. He's a great guy in his own way, and he's totally different in another way. But what statement he made, he probably meant well, but it probably came out wrong. That's what I guess I could say about it. A lot of times I say things that don't come out the way I really mean to say them. It's kind of like that. I'm totally against anything that's racially bigotry and anything like that, and I think Governor Hutchinson feels the same way. We have our moments of things we believe in, but when you take them to the far extreme like that … . I'll put it this way: If you're a Christian person, you're supposed to love your brother and get along with them, and if you can't get along with them, then you leave them alone and go your way.

On Confederate monuments:

I think they should be left up. They're part of our history. It doesn't matter what side you believe in. The Civil War was not about slavery. It was about the North putting dominance over us, and stuff like that. Slavery was an issue of it, but that was not what the main war was about. The Confederate flag and the Confederacy statues are part of my history. I was raised on that. North, South, we knew it all. It wasn't that it was one-sided. But that's part of my history. It would be no different than if you've got a statue of Martin Luther King somewhere. That's history for Arkansas; it's history for the U.S.A. But it has black history there. I don't want to pull their black history down. I don't want them pulling our history that we grew up with down either — not anybody, not just the blacks. It's not just blacks trying to do that. It's all that are trying to do it. … I am totally against changing our heritage.

Rep. Carol Dalby (R-Texarkana)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Andy Davis (R-Little Rock)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Gary Deffenbaugh (R-Van Buren)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Jana Della Rosa (R-Rogers)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Jim Dotson (R-Bentonville)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Charlotte Douglas (R-Alma)

On Charlottesville:

When I look at my county, and I see 700 kids that don't have a home, and I see our high school kids are highest in the nation for opioid use, I just see better places for us to spend our efforts than battling with each other over whether a statue is important. Not that it is not an unimportant issue to some people. But at this point in my life, I see such pain and injury that needs immediate attention, and that's not on the list.

On Trump's statement:

To tell you the truth, I have been out of the loop enough [she’s been on vacation] that I haven't seen his statement. What I have seen is the media has gone back and looked at everyone that voted for Mr. Trump and said, why haven't you come out with a statement saying you reject [your] vote. When we run for office, I'm sure that if I looked at my voter records. I would have people who I don't believe the same as that voted for me. I don't think it's a valid — this is America. We can vote for whoever we want to. And I don't feel like that's an issue for me: who voted for him, and whether he came out strong against their votes that got him into office. I think he has said several times that he does not believe the way they believe. That was adequate for me.

On Confederate monuments:

My instinct is that we need to use those as a teaching opportunity. We don't need to hide our past. We need to use it as a teaching opportunity to say: How can we do better in the future? If we don't use history to help us make a better future, then we're going to miss the point of our life experiences in general…. We have to take what people in the past have done and the importance they put on it and make a teaching moment out of it, but not make a moment that divides us.

Rep. Dan Douglas (R-Bentonville)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Trevor Drown (R-Dover)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Les Eaves (R-Searcy)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Jon Eubanks (R-Paris)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Joe Farrer (R-Austin)

On Charlottesville:

As far as I know, we live in America, everybody has the right to protest. When you bring swastikas and neo-Nazis, why? That was wrong. The other side: When you come in with violence — they had the right to protest and the other one comes in and causes trouble. I don’t understand what happened and why we can’t be tolerant of each other anymore. When did we lose that? Everybody has the right to an opinion. I have an opinion. You have an opinion. They may differ, but I’m not going to punch you in the mouth because our opinions differ. We lost that somewhere in America, and I don’t know where it went and when we lost it. It upsets me we can’t be tolerant of each other. It upsets me deeply. It was horrible what happened there. But both sides were guilty.

On Trump’s response:

I think he did the right response. Both sides were wrong, like he said. He could’ve narrowed it down a little more. Why are neo-Nazis part of this? You know you’re going to have violence with that. Since World War II that’s been a bad thing. If the protest was what it was supposed to be — protesting taking a Robert E. Lee statute out — but when you start bringing the Aryan Nation in, you’re going to have problems. … Robert E. Lee didn’t stand for that.

On Confederate monuments:

I ran a bill to protect them from being destroyed. It died in the Senate [earlier this year]. I want to protect them. You can tear every statue down, but it doesn’t change history. The Civil War happened. Slavery happened. If you don’t know history, you tend to repeat it. That’s what these things are there for — to remind us what happened, the South fought the North over slavery.

Someone is going to run a bill to take the star off the Arkansas flag. Arkansas was part of the Confederacy. You can’t change that. Tearing down a statue is not going to change that. Changing a flag is not going to change it. Statues aren’t put there to celebrate. They’re not parties. They’re there to commemorate.

Rep. Charlene Fite (R-Van Buren)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Lanny Fite (R-Benton)

On Charlottesville:

It was just unfortunate, the whole thing was. I don’t know of enough detail to go into much of an explanation, but it was saddening to me to see what was going on.

On Trump’s response:

I did not see everything he said, so I would not want to comment on that.

On Confederate monuments:

I think both of these situations were done abruptly, this and in New Orleans. I think more thought ought to go into it. I think that was one of the causes of the problem, the abruptness of all that’s happening without much input from the community.

It’s a hard line between history and racism. I know several people who are Civil War buffs, and they haven’t got a racist bone in their body.

Rep. Jack Fortner (R-Yellville)

On Charlottesville:

I thought it was sad, truly, sad.

On Trump’s response:

I support President Trump. I think we should all respect the office. Do I wish that he would not make some of the remarks he does? You bet. But I respect that office. I think that’s what’s a lot of the problem right now — there is no respect. We don’t respect each other. We don’t respect ourselves.

On Confederate monuments:

I would not [be in favor of removing or relocating Confederate monuments]. I would never support burning books, either. Whether I agree with them or not. I think history is what keeps us from repeating awful things. I can understand how someone might be offended by that. Those statutes were put up a long time ago, and they’re a part of history. Would I want to put one up today? No, I wouldn’t. And I don’t think anyone would erect one today.

When I saw them take that statue and those people put a rope to it and put it on the ground and acted like animals to it on the ground it made me think of the Taliban, when they went in and destroyed and blew up all those religious icons that were carved into the sides of those mountains that had been there for hundreds and hundreds of years. I thought, have we come to that?

Rep. Mickey Gates (R-Hot Springs)

Well from the little bit of news I saw, you had a clash of people. And you had people who are prejudiced from their own small little world. They are so prejudiced they can’t accept people of another race or another community, and they become intolerant of them. It’s very sad that we still live in a day when people are judged by the color of their skin.

On Trump’s response:

From what I saw, it was measured. Oftentimes, there are conflicts because of one group. Sometimes there’s conflicts on both sides. Just like an argument, sometimes there’s an argument where one person is being yelled at. Sometimes there’s an argument where two people are yelling at each other. You have that many people in a group, you may have one person that’s the instigator. But oftentimes, if you have somebody else on the other side challenging or whatever else, that can make matters worse. Generally in that type of element, it goes so emotional that rational people sometimes loose their rationality and sad things happen like that.

On Confederate monuments

To me, it doesn’t matter if it’s Confederate or any other issue. If it’s on public property, I believe that it’s up to that governing body, whoever that legislative body is, to have the controls deemed necessary.

Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-Paragould)

On Charlottesville:

I thought it was appalling, and I certainly condemn any and all the groups that were involved.

On Trump’s response:

He could’ve maybe been a little more specific early on.

On Confederate monuments:

That’s not something I’ve really given a lot of thought to.

House Speaker Rep. Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Justin Gonzales (R-Okolona)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Kim Hendren (Gravette)

On Charlottesville:

I’ve thought a lot about that. … We need to be good neighbors to each other. I put Republicans and Democrats in that deal. I’ve been both over 40 years. … We just need to … love God and serve him … and then we need to care about our neighbor and love him as ourself. I think that covers the whole thing. We’re just not doing it. None of us are doing it like we ought to and many of us are not doing it all.

On Trump’s response:

I’m a supporter of President Trump and have been since he filed. I realize that he’s an imperfect individual just like Kim Hendren is … as we all are. I’m under the conviction that there was only one perfect man who ever lived … Jesus Christ. … President Trump as did President Obama … and President Clinton — none of those guys did not make mistakes. … We need to love each other enough and care about each other enough to forgive people. Is he ever going to please everybody that disagrees with him? No. … But I think he’s working hard, and I appreciate that — somebody that’s working hard.

On Confederate monuments:

No, I wouldn’t. … Even down there by the Capitol Hill apartments, we’ve got the Little Rock Nine out there. I realize they weren’t perfect individuals. They had a legitimate case, and I appreciate what it stands for. I had friends that marched down when Orval Faubus was governor. But I believe we can and should learn from history and be realistic about it. I like history.

I know that there’s discussion already afoot in the legislature to remove that star in [the flag of] the state of Arkansas. … I understand people disagree and have different views. Some of my dearest friends in the legislature are people far as different from me as for as color, as far as philosophy, as far as religious convictions. But I’ve built relationships with them over the years.

Rep. Kim Hammer (R-Benton)

On Charlottesville:

I do not condone any expression of violence in order to advance what you may see as a view on the matter. Regardless of whatever title, group name, whatever flag you are flying under, if your intent is to advance violence toward other members of humanity you are worthy of being condemned. I tried to run a piece of legislation [HB 1578] that would have dealt with this matter. We in our district, I think I can say, we are not appreciative, nor do we want [people] that come from outside and bring their fight to our area. [The bill] would have held entities that bus people in, if they have been identified with violent acts, it would have held them civilly liable for damages. … That did not make it out of committee.

On Trump’s response:

I don’t feel compelled or obligated to explain the comments of others.

On Confederate monuments:

I would probably fall along the lines of monuments are a reminder of where we’ve been and help us remember where we’re trying to go, and that could be said of any monument. I would align myself with Governor Hutchinson’s statement [that dismantling Confederate monuments would be a mistake].

Rep. Ken Henderson (R-Russellville)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. David Hillman (R-Alymra)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Grant Hodges (R-Rogers)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Mike Holcomb (R-Pine Bluff)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Steve Hollowell (R-Forrest City)

On all issues: I don’t have anything to say about it. I don’t watch the news anymore. If it’s not happening in my district … .

Rep. Douglas House (R-North Little Rock)

On Charlottesville:

The action on all sides was inappropriate. We all condemn Nazism. We all condemn bigotry and hate.

On Trump’s response:

The first report that comes in is always incomplete. It’s timing. I understand that. We don’t know what happened.

On Confederate monuments:

There’s no reason to erase history. Everyone recognizes slavery is wrong, that the Confederacy chose the wrong cause. Most of the soldiers [in the statuary] didn’t own slaves. They were drafted. They did what they thought was right for that time.

Rep. Lane Jean (R-Magnolia)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Joe Jett (R-Success)

On Charlottesville:

I don’t know about [the strength of] the white supremacy movement. … There are a lot of news organizations that call themselves news organizations where they’re really entertainment, and it stirs up a lot of this stuff and gets people worked up.

I think we need open and honest discussion [about race and other areas of contention]. When people try to speak, they get shouted down. It’s time for the mainstream to stand up and shout, tell people to get involved. …

My grandfather served in [World War II], people bled and died. And all of a sudden people are sticking up for these [supremacist] fools.

On Trump’s response:

I think the Black Lives Matter [movement, which some are equating with the counterprotest] was born out of people getting shot … and for the life of me I don’t know how anybody can mainstream or rationalize [Nazis]. The Nazis killed millions of people. I don’t get where those groups are equal. I’m disappointed in [President Trump’s] response. It’s dumbing it down. … I heard the president say there were good folks on [the Unite the Right] side. If they were hanging around with Nazis, and they were good, they were not intelligent. They were pretty dumb, in my book.
[Heather Heyer] was an innocent bystander. I just can’t equate that group with the Nazi group. I think some of these folks [who see equal blame on both sides] are just trying to rationalize. … It’s a dangerous place for our society to be. …

On Confederate monuments:

I voted for the separation [of the Martin Luther King Jr./Robert E. Lee holiday]. I feel like anything divisive enough to bring people [out] to get killed like that lady [Heyer] killed up in Virginia … .

At the end of the day, I understand people say that’s [Confederate symbols] their heritage, but I’d like to think maybe if people understood history, [they’d understand] it’s not their heritage.

I’d like to leave [removal of symbols] up to individual towns. … [But] it comes back to the state to make a decision, I’m always going to err on the side of less divisiveness. I want to see people come together.

Rep. Jack Ladyman (R-Jonesboro)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Tim Lemons (R-Cabot)

On Charlottesville:

Would I conduct myself in that way [as the neo-Nazi faction]? No, and if my children did we would have a real problem.

On Trump’s response:

I really think the president’s response was kind of a knee-jerk response. I don’t think his response was meant the way a lot of people out there are portraying it. I’m not defending him, but I can see where they took a few words and twisted them to spin it in a negative light.

On Confederate monuments:

I’m a history buff, and I love historical places and reading up on historical events. History is what drives us into the future, what causes us to change the way we’re thinking. It’s like a compass on a ship. If we wipe history off the face of the earth [by removing Confederate symbols], I’m afraid we’ll keep making mistakes. …

Some of my closest friends in the legislature are people that are black and when it came time to [vote on the King/Lee holiday] I was one of those few Republicans who voted to separate.

It is so unfortunate that we have hate groups on both ends of this spectrum. As a white male, I cannot speak as to the feelings of persecution that many African-Americans have faced. But, as a white male, I am appalled as to the white supremacist views that have been openly discussed over the past few days.

Rep. Mark Lowery (R-Maumelle)

On all subjects:

I have nothing to add to the statement from the state GOP and Governor Hutchinson's statement.

Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-Elm Springs)

On Charlottesville:

I think we’re like everybody else [after the events in Charlottesville]: heartbroken and disgusted and mad and angry. Freedom of speech … I’m all for it, but I wonder about people who just want to tear other people apart. I don’t see the usefulness of it.

On Trump’s response:

I really liked [President Trump’s] second response [to the events in Charlottesville]. The first was measured. [Pause.] I think we need to be real vigorous in the face of this type of hatred.

On Confederate monuments:

I think the Confederate [monuments] ought to stay put, so we can remember our history so we don’t ever repeat it. … I don’t want to go backward. I want to go forward together; it’s too critical to bury the past.

Rep. Roger D. Lynch (R-Lonoke)

On Charlottesville:

[The protest in Charlottesville] was awful. We don’t like violence. We don’t like people who hate other people. That’s not the Christian way to go.

On Trump’s response:

I had some people tell me about it [Trump’s statement]. I don’t trust CNN [reporting on it]; I haven’t seen the press conference. [Trump] has to be more careful with his statements.

On Confederate monuments:

Why would people waste time with that [wanting to remove Confederate symbolism]? I haven’t heard anything about it until the last few years.

You should try to stand in the other man’s shoes before you take a rock and try to hit him over the head.

Rep. Austin McCollum (R-Bentonville)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Ron McNair (R-Alpena)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. John Maddox (R-Mena)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Andy Mayberry (R-Hensley)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. David Meeks (R-Conway)

On Charlottesville:

I believe my tweets have accurately described my thoughts concerning Charlottesville.
[Meeks has retweeted posts by U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nev., calling the racist action “utterly revolting” and quoting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; has tweeted the post by former state Rep. Nate Bell (I-Mena) saying “I have chosen to love”; has tweeted that Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who left the White House last week, “should never have been hired in the first place. Another mess due to Trump’s bad judgment.”]

Rep. Stephen Meeks (R-Greenbrier)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Josh Miller (R-Heber Springs)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. John Payton (R-Wilburn)

On Charlottesville:

I’ve not seen a lot of the coverage. I’m very concerned with, in recent months and going back a year or two, that protests are becoming riots. We need to somehow learn to define the difference between a protest and a riot. Everybody would be better served to look at the example of Dr. Martin Luther King to learn the effectiveness of peaceful protest over violent. …

I hate to see elements of our society that have anti-American views … like, I look at the Nazi skinhead white supremacists as total degenerates. I hate to see them have any type of organized protest. But I also hate to see society deny them that right. … The assembly should have been stopped when they showed up armed with clubs. That would be considered arms. If any group takes to the streets with armament, the police, the National Guard need to stop the assembly.

On Trump’s response:

I do believe both sides were wrong in letting it drift into violence.

On Confederate monuments:

We have a responsibility to our forefathers who decided to put up the memorials [to keep them up] … to honor what was felt worthy.

Rep. Clint Penzo (R-Springdale)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Rebecca Petty (R-Rogers)

On Charlottesville:

I think that there needs to be a lot more love in this country. I know that sounds like a big cop-out, but it isn’t. Just being in Little Rock, and working with everyone, I learned so much this past legislative session. I worked with people from all walks of life and across the aisle … but we were able to come together to get something accomplished. … I have hope that we can all work things out. And I know that sounds so simple, but that’s how I feel about it.

On Trump’s response:

I haven’t been watching TV too much. So, I don’t know exactly — my Dad had told me Trump lipped off something; I don’t want to even know about it. I mean, that’s how I look at it, after the session — I feel like I had a really, really great session and a lot of that was due to [Democrat] Rep. [Greg] Leding and [Republican] Rep. [Missy] Irvin and working across the aisle … I’m ready for our nation, it’s just like we need some sort of healing. I know personally I’m just going to love everybody.

On Confederate monuments:

We worked last session with Rep. [Joe] Farrer (R-Austin), and I can’t remember the number, but it was the Heritage Protection Act [HB 1297, would have required that “a monument commemorating any of the following (wars, including the Civil War) shall not be relocated, removed, altered, renamed, rededicated, or otherwise disturbed.” It failed.] Going forward, again, it’s just something that I think, I really would just need a minute to think about all of it now. … Is one side trying to erase our history? I just can’t figure it out. I just wish I knew what brought on this problem. I just want to solve problems. How to fix it, that’s what, as a legislator, I would like to focus on. I think we need to identify the actual problem. … Have things always been this bad? It’s strange to me that all of this is going on. I think that the actual problem needs to be identified. When did all of it start? … I would love to look back and see what started this conversation. What happened to say: “Hey, we need to start removing these statues.” … It’s something that, again, apparently was an issue. Both sides are so volatile. Let’s figure out why everybody is so mad. … I wish I knew why everyone was so mad at each other. We are human beings. … I’m just afraid that it may be coming [to Arkansas].

Rep. Aaron Pilkington (R-Clarksville)

On Charlottesville:

I’m horrified by what happened in Charlottesville. I think it’s a sad day for our country to watch that kind of violence happen, to see groups that are filled with hate get so much attention in this country.

On Trump’s response:

I was satisfied with the second response [by President Trump] — the one before the press conference [on Monday] — in which he dissed the neo-Nazis and the KKK. I believe him when he says he didn’t want to dignify those groups, him not being a career politician. … But, people like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz had the best response. … I think [the KKK and similar hate groups] are a huge part of the problem. I think Americans, both Republicans and Democrats, need to step up to those kind of people and stand up for American values.

On Confederate monuments:

I think that [taking down the monuments] would be hollow symbolism that doesn’t really address the problem. I believe that erasing history is not the way to create a better future.

Rep. Mathew W. Pitsch (R-Fort Smith)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Marcus E. Richmond (R-Harvey)

On Charlottesville:

It’s just a sad thing. Racism is an old wound in this country. It seems like it can't heal because there are too many people picking at it all the time. We have a great deal of difficulty having honest discussions about it. … My experience in the Marine Corps, for the 22 years I was there, was that right after the Vietnam War racism was horrible in the military. … But, basically there was a group of senior officers who said, “We aren’t going to put up with this.” It really made a difference and I think that’s the kind of conversation we have to have. … I have no time to spend with neo-Nazis or white supremacists or any of that nonsense. This is the United States of America; we come from all sorts of backgrounds.

On Trump’s response:

What frustrates me is that we spend all our time microscoping on issues — looking for something to pick at — instead of actually trying to solve problems. Especially Trump, it doesn't matter what he says, he’s going to get slapped around for that … [and] it takes us off track of what we really need to be talking about, which is that we are going the wrong way in our race relations.

On Confederate monuments:

I’m not for taking them down. I don’t think you can scrub our history. What are you going to get out of it? … Our state supported slavery and that was a black eye on our state, we know that. … There’s no end to it. Sanitizing our history is not going to solve anything. It’s just picking at the wound that is racism.”

Rep. Laurie Rushing (R-Hot Springs)

On Charlottesville:

Violence of this nature does not need to be tolerated by any group or organization. There is no place in America for this type of hatred.

On Trump’s response:

President Trump has been criticized for his slow response to the violence and situation in Charlottesville, and I can understand the frustrations of Americans because of his actions not being more prompt, however, I feel that he was taking the time to analyze the situation before making a public statement. As far as the president stating there was fault on both sides, that is his perception of the situation from the details that he was provided.

On Confederate monuments:

I do not feel removing the Confederate statutes in Arkansas would be a wise decision. This is a part of history and should be a reminder of the mistakes and victories of our country. As we have all heard many times in life, if we don't learn from history then we are bound to make some of the same mistakes in the future. No way should we ever let future generations of Americans forget the suffering of the African-American heritage. Americans should be a unified body that is about freedom and non-discrimination of all people.

Rep. Johnny Rye (R-Trumann)

On Charlottesville:

I don’t know if this is against the Constitution to do this, but I believe that all of our demonstrations, I think we should put a halt on everything right now until we know what’s going to go through. We’ve had different situations of different groups that’ve had demonstrations. On both sides. You’ve had problems. I just think that it’s time that our country and our state stop that. It’s causing a lot of friction. There are a lot of good black folks and a lot of good white folks that are put in a bad situation because of all this.

On Trump’s response:

I don’t think the president has dealt with this situation before. There can be some good said and some bad said. He probably means well by what he’s trying to do. I think we have hate groups that’s involved in this thing. We need to put a halt on everything that’s out there and we know what’s going to happen and it needs to be under total control.

On Confederate monuments:

No, I wouldn’t [remove them]. I think it’s part of our history. Once you start there, are we going to rewrite the history books? What’s bothering me so much about this is there are so many people on both sides. It’s hurting people. I wish we could stop these things. As far as the Confederate statues and all them, I don’t think anything has been bad out of all that. It’s something that happened in history. … I don’t think it’s meant to cause friction with our people. It’s just our history, and a lot of people died on both sides.

Rep. Matthew J. Shepherd (R-El Dorado)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Brandt Smith (R-Jonesboro)

On Charlottesville:

It’s just a sad state of affairs. And it just seems we can’t have dialogue anymore and people resort to violence and chaos. And personally, I would never advocate that type of behavior at all. Regardless of what sides people were on, it was just — it was just sad, when I see Americans treating Americans like this. Somebody needs to be able to bring down some of the hatred and the vitriolic words and just start treating each other a little more decent, or a lot more decent. You know Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

On Trump’s response:

I’ve listened to him make multiple statements. I think sometimes it’s just things happen so quick that you don’t have time to prepare a well-thought-out comment. He probably shouldn’t have made his initial comments. … But I think he’s come back and repeatedly called out hate crimes, white supremacy, neo-Nazi or Nazi behavior because it is unacceptable; I can totally agree on that. This country has fought too many wars to see that. … I do think that Trump was spot on when he said that there were multiple actors involved in the incident and that both sides — while one side was not foaming with neo-Nazi hate — they all showed up with anger and malice. And that’s not how we do things in this country. We can’t fall prey to that.

On Confederate monuments:

I’m not favorable to taking the statues down or the monuments. Primarily because good, bad or indifferent, we don’t have to celebrate all of the things that have occurred, but we can’t rewrite it. There may be lessons that can be learned from those monuments. … We don’t have to appreciate everything, but we need to remember what has brought us to this place and time as a nation. I don’t want to see history revised, reconstructing and changing history.

On putting the monuments in a museum:

That’s a great idea. I just think, for some of these monuments, and these memorials, they have been in place for so long. And, actually, history buffs have turned some of these areas into tourist attractions. And the way we look at history, through different lenses and experiences, I think — I don’t know that I would want to collectively pull every one down and move them. … Well, do we need to rename Washington? Washington, D.C.? Do we need to take down the Washington Monument? The Lincoln Memorial? The Jefferson Memorial? We can go too far.

Rep. James J. Sorvillo (R-Little Rock)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Nelda Speaks (R-Mountain Home)

On Charlottesville:

Really I’m angry. I just cannot believe that American citizens, on both sides, would act that way. And I think it’s time that if that happens again that you call out the National Guard. You push the limits you have to do to stop it. It’s part of our history. It doesn't change what happened back then. It’s time that we put this behind us and we move on.

On Trump’s response:

I think that they done the best that they could. … I think to be truthful you’ve got media; you’ve got people that are talking everything out of context that he said. He’s our president. … I think he’s doing a great job. He’s trying very hard to unite our citizens. We just got too much rhetoric going on. … Now, for anyone carrying a Nazi flag, I think they need to be handled separately. That is a part that should never be entered into any march or anything. We’ve seen so much — I’m so tired of it — they’re burning down the streets, burning down the buildings. Whoever is doing that, call them out and take care of them. I believe that we are Americans and that we should act like we are proud of our country and proud of our heritage. … More than likely, people that started this weren’t from Charlottesville.

On Confederate monuments:

No I don’t, I really don’t [support taking down Confederate monuments]. … That is history. It doesn’t change history to move it all. I think it started out as a peaceful march. I think these people are marched in from other places. And then tempers start flying. See the other side — the Trump haters — do not feel that we [the Trump supporters] have a voice. They don’t think that we have any rights. And I have a problem with that. I think that they have got to come to grips with some things or this — my concern is, it’s going to move on from one Southern city to another Southern city. And just keep coming with the states and I’m concerned about that. I think that we are going to have to get the upper hand and put a stop to it. If it’s going to create a problem — people have a right to march as long as it’s peaceful, I don’t want to take away that First Amendment from them — but when you start on this other side of just tearing up, like the Black Lives Matter [movement], against the police force; we’ve got to get an upper hand on that. … We’re going to lose everything that’s part our history and part of our history. … I’m not for slavery, never was, but I don’t believe that just tearing down things is going to put a stop to what happened to blacks years ago.

I don’t think [Confederate monuments are] celebrating anything. … It has nothing to do with what is happening today. If white supremacy is part of the KKK then they need to be prosecuted. I totally agree that they need to be prosecuted. That has no part in our history today. It needs to be done away with. … But, what’s happening today, it’s almost like a civil war is being fought in cities against our police force, against individuals, against monuments. And I can’t condone stuff like that. I’m just angry that we’ve come to this in America, because I love our country.

Rep. James Sturch (R-Batesville)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Dan Sullivan (R-Jonesboro)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Dwight Tosh (R-Jonesboro)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. DeAnn Vaught (R-Horatio)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Jeff Wardlaw (R-Hermitage)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Les Warren (R-Hot Springs)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Danny Watson (R-Hope)

On Charlottesville:

Just to start with: the bigotry and hatred, just c’mon guys! I hope and pray that nothing happens to the great state of Arkansas. We can’t change history, but bigotry and stuff has no place in my life. … I served 15 years in law enforcement. I was sworn to uphold the law and [protect] every person. It hurts me, personally, knowing that we’re going backward. … The stuff that happened there in Charlottesville; many wrongs on both sides … [and] if it has anything to with violence, racial and bigotry, that is wrong. That has no place in my life. Again, it hurts me knowing how we are taking steps backward. What is the magic answer? I’ll have to call you back.

On Trump’s response vs. Governor Hutchinson’s:

The supremacists like you just mentioned they have violence, racial; I’m not for that. But as far as comparing the two on how they released, I do believe our president could’ve done it another way. I don’t think he communicated it really well. … [Hutchinson and Trump] have two different styles.

On Confederate monuments:

I have to stick to really local control; I know that’s not what you’re asking, but I’m weighing it out. It may come to that! Can I live with it? Well, certainly. We have got so much business to do: tax reform, trying to get stuff passed; we still have some school systems having problems. We’ve got business to do. … Push come to the shove, we might have to [change monuments]. … I’m not against having a monument in memory of the plight that slaves have had. Oh my God, I can’t imagine not having the freedom. I would be even open to having that on display; let them be recognized for the plight they had to endure.

Rep. Jeff Williams (R-Springdale)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Carlton Wing (R-North Little Rock)

Did not respond to inquiry.

Rep. Richard Womack (R-Arkadelphia)

Did not respond to inquiry.

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