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Three years later | How George Floyd's death changed Arkansas

Three years ago, our country watched as George Floyd was murdered by police. The impact of that day was felt all over the country, including right here in Arkansas.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The streets of Little Rock and Central Arkansas are no longer filled with demonstrators like they were three years ago, but Natalie James can still vividly remember what got her out there in the first place.

"When I saw that and heard him calling out for his mom, it broke me down," James said.

James got involved three years ago after a video of George Floyd's murder at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers spread around the country. 

Protests began in the Twin Cities, and quickly spread across the United States, including right here in Central Arkansas.

"Feel our pain and understand, we're all in this together," James said, as she remembered those first few weeks of demonstrations.

Those lasted for weeks, with many staying peaceful, while some did turn violent. In the years since then, change pushed for by those demonstrators has happened.

Former Governor Asa Hutchinson signed legislation that required training for officers to recognize and prevent the use of excessive force. Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. banned chokehold use by the Little Rock Police Department.

Scott was also out demonstrating during that time. 

We asked him what his thoughts are on the past three years, and what's changed.

In a statement, he said, "The senseless and unjust murder of George Floyd caused us as a nation to re-examine the systemic and institutional issues in law enforcement. We are reminded today of the progress we have made toward ensuring fair and just treatment, but we know there is still so much more work to be done. I’m proud of our efforts here in Little Rock to institute meaningful reforms and 21st Community Policing."

James agreed.

She ran for Congress as a way to introduce her own change— something she said should be the next step.

"We need the right types of bills that are going to better protect our constituents," James said. "We've made change, now it's time to continue that change."

While protests and demonstrations aren't as visible anymore, signs of what started all of it are. It's a reminder for James, and one she said she won't forget.

"We need to stop fighting against each other and hurting each other, and look at each other as people," she added.

Credit: KTHV

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