Helena-West Helena, Ark. (AP) Officers with military rifles have been stopping and questioning passers-by in a violence-plagued Arkansas neighborhood that's been under a 24-hour curfew for a week.
The Helena-West Helena City Council voted 9-0 yesterday to allow police to expand that program into any area of the city, even though a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union warns the police stops are unconstitutional.
The police chief says patrols have netted 32 arrests since they began last week in a 10-block neighborhood of the town on the banks of the Mississippi river. He says no one's been arrested for actually violating the curfew, but people are being questioned about why they're outside.
Mayor James valley says “citizens deserve peace” and “some infringement of constitutional rights is ok.”
Some residents at a packed council meeting described a neighborhood under siege because of gunfire and gangs.