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Arkansas State U. Students Upset Over Police Action On Election Night

This story was written by Sarah Morris, The Herald

At least four ASU students said they plan to file complaints with the Jonesboro Police Department early this afternoon over Jonesboro Police action following a Nov. 4 celebration for the new U.S. president-elect that turned violent after police responded to noise complaints.

"I think we have about eight-10 (written complaints) right now, but not everybody has completed theirs so I'm not sure how many there are going to be," Chelsea Adams, a senior psychology major of North Little Rock, said.

Adams said the complaints would be filed with JPD after the students attended class. According to JPD, no written complaints had been filed as of Friday afternoon.

The number of people involved in the celebration at The Grove apartments, 500 N. Caraway Road, would be one of the items listed in the complaint, Alex Ingram, a senior journalism major of Little Rock, said.

Both Adams and Ingram said there were not 200-250 people at the celebration, which was the JPD estimate of the crowd in the police reports.

"I really think we're stretching it to 60-70 people," Ingram said.

Jonesboro Police Chief Mike Yates said 200-250 was only an estimate of the number of people at the celebration and that the real number of participants could be anywhere between 75 to 125 people. He cited the conflicting numbers as a result of the night's chaos.

Brittany Jones, a senior advertising major of North Little Rock, said a second problem at the incident was the fact that no bottles were thrown or guns shot as stated in the police reports.

Jones said she searched the area, along with others and the Grove's general manager, without finding a single bottle or bullet.

The women, along with Brittany Jackson, a sophomore Radio-TV major of Southaven, Miss., and Brittany Reynolds, a sophomore English education major of Little Rock, also said the men arrested were innocent.

"It never got out of control and police rushed the scene," Jackson said. "They made it out of control. No student out there was out of control. They were not throwing bottles."

Jackson said the police were also "just grabbing people randomly."

"We should be able to look back and say we went out and kicked it, not that our friends were arrested," Adams said.

The women questioned why it was only males arrested as well as only blacks.

Yates said a routine internal investigation was currently underway.

"We have an active internal affairs investigation going on so I am not at liberty to discuss (the incident) until it is complete," Yates said.

Yates said the investigation was still waiting on witness statements to be submitted before it could be completed.

The completion of the investigation "depends on the level of cooperation of the people involved and how quick they get their statements to us," Yates said. He also expected a video of the event to be turned in as well to be reviewed.

Adams said they are working with police in their investigation.

The Grove's manager would not comment on the incident.

Eight ASU students, three of whom were ASU Football players, were arrested after the celebration, which police said became out of control after then Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama was officially elected.

Craighead County District Court Judge Keith Blackman recently found probable cause to charge Kiano Prater, 19, of Jonesboro with refusal to submit and aggravated assault; Kevin Jonesboro, 22, Seneca Hart, 23, Clifford Crisswell, 19, Donte Jones, 19, and Jonathan Burns, 19, all of Jonesboro, with inciting a riot; Jeffery Boyd, 21, of Stuttgart, wth battery second degree and inciting a riot; and Leroy Trahan, 20, of Jonesboro, with hindering apprehension or prosecution of a Class D felony and inciting a riot.

ASU Head Football Coach Steve Roberts said the players, Donte Jones, Kevin Jones and Prater, were punished by the athletic department for their role in the incident.

"They were suspended for a game and have other discipline going on within the program that we keep internal," Roberts said.

Roberts said the men would be able to play Saturday's conference game against Florida Atlantic at home "if everything goes well and they meet the expectations we keep in front of them."

On Friday, ASU officials released a statement to confirm they were working with JPD "to answer concerns about student involvement in an election night off-campus apartment complex incident, and to reassure the campus population and parents that the university and Jonesboro are safe environments."

ASU administrators and students met with Yates Thursday to discuss the incident. Media was informed of the meeting Friday.

Assistant Vice Chancellor Craig Johnson of Student Affairs said he could not comment whether the students would be punished by the university, though generically he said "with incidents that could effect the community, we do have the option to charge a student through our code of conduct."

If convicted, inciting a riot and battery second degree, both Class D felonies, carry up to a 6-year sentence and a fine to not exceed $10,000. Hindering apprehension or prosecution of a Class D felony carries up to a 1-year sentence and/or a fine to not exceed $1,000.

All eight men have a Dec. 29 court appearance at the Craighead County Courthouse.

The students, if convicted, would not have to report their convictions to the university. Johnson said only individuals applying or reapplying for admittance had to list prior convictions.

Johnson said the university is notified when students are arrested in Jonesboro.

"Whenever (JPD) arrest one of our students, they notify us so we are aware of anything that happens to our students here in Jonesboro."

For students who are concerned with their current housing due to the incident, Johnson said there are rooms currently available on campus.

For more information on available campus housing, contact Residence Life at (870) 972-2042.

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