LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas legislator who co-sponsored a law aimed in part at preventing authorities from prohibiting the filming of an arrest was arrested Monday after police said he refused to leave the area of a traffic stop he was recording.
Little Rock police said they arrested Democratic state Rep. John Walker, a civil rights attorney who has represented a group of black families in a long-running school desegregation lawsuit, was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of obstructing governmental operations.
Walker, 79, was released Monday afternoon from the Pulaski County jail.
According to the arrest report, Walker was filming police after they had pulled over a driver for not having a license plate whom they later arrested for having active warrants. When the driver asked why Walker was filming him, he replied: “I’m just making sure they don’t kill you,” the report said. The passenger in the vehicle police had pulled over also was arrested for a failure to appear warrant.
Police said Walker and Omavi Kushukuru, an attorney from his law firm who was also arrested, ignored commands to not come into the area of the traffic stop. The report claimed Walker kept talking over officers “in an antagonistic provocative manner” when police tried to speak with him.
“I ordered Walker several times to leave or be arrested. Walker replied, ‘Arrest me,’ at which point I did,” the arresting officer wrote in his report. The report also claimed that Walker was overheard telling a jailer, ‘I only want to file a complaint against the white officers.’”
Walker last year co-sponsored the measure that prohibits public officials from preventing someone from recording on public or private property where they were lawfully present unless it presents a risk to someone’s physical safety or constitutes an element of a criminal offense.
Walker has represented his Little Rock district in the state House since 2011 and is unopposed seeking re-election. He has been involved in some of the state’s most high-profile discrimination and civil rights cases in recent years. He has represented a group of families known as the Joshua Intervenors in a desegregation case involving three Little Rock area schools. He also represented Nolan Richardson in the former basketball coach’s unsuccessful federal discrimination lawsuit against the University of Arkansas. Richardson claimed he was fired as retaliation for speaking out about discrimination at the university.