The dispute over where political candidates can and cannot place signs around the Jefferson County Courthouse continued Wednesday when a new group of signs took the place of those removed Tuesday.

The dispute over where political candidates can and cannot place signs around the Jefferson County Courthouse continued Wednesday when a new group of signs took the place of those removed Tuesday.


Jefferson County Attorney Jackie Harris has been looking into the situation at the request of Jefferson County Judge Dutch King.


"I am still looking at the relevant law, but I believe that there is a city ordinance that is applicable to this situation as long as it is consistent with state law," Harris said. "I am still researching state law on the topic."


Harris said that he is looking to city of Pine Bluff Ordinance Number 5596, Section 22-32, pertaining to sign regulations, which states that no political signs shall be placed on public property, facilities or equipment.


The signs that had been placed in the raised flower bed running along the southern end of the courthouse’s west parking lot on Wednesday afternoon included those from Ward 3 Pine Bluff alderman candidate Reginald Johnson; Ward 1 Pine Bluff alderman candidate Thelma Walker; Arkansas gubernatorial candidates Mike Ross and Asa Hutchinson; and Ward 2 Pine Bluff alderman candidate Glen Brown Jr.


The signs were removed Tuesday by a street department staff member, who was backed up by Mayor Debe Hollingsworth and Police Chief Jeff Hubanks when conflict arouse with Alderman Glen Brown Sr.


At the scene Wednesday, several signs had returned, and local residents were discussion the situation.


"I think it is ridiculous that the mayor and the Pine Bluff police chief would be dispatched by anyone to pull up signs," state Rep. the Rev. Henry "Hank" Wilkins IV said. "If there is an issue with signs, it seems to me more sensible to simply pick up the phone and call the Ross campaign, the Hutchinson campaign, the Pryor campaign and any other campaign that had signs there and let them know of the restriction."


Wilkins said that he was surprised to hear the city say the flower bed is part of its right-of-way.


"You would think that this would have been sorted out a long time ago," Wilkins said. "Whether in fact signs can be placed there or not, there were much better ways to handle this situation.


"There is a way to do this that doesn’t add fuel to the fire and cause conflict unnecessarily," Wilkins said. "That type of action does not serve the process of progress."


Community activist Jack Foster said that, based on research he conducted, the ground in question is county property.


"I placed the Hutchinson sign there and encouraged other candidates to come put their own signs there," Foster said. "It wasn’t right of the mayor to remove them."


The sign issue began Tuesday afternoon when Hollingsworth, responding to a telephone call from an angry resident, telephoned street department Director Rick Rhoden and asked him to go to the courthouse and remove the signs from the flower bed.


Signs for Glen Brown Jr. were among those collected and both he and Glen Brown Sr. were notified by supporters and arrived on scene.


Hollingsworth said Glen Brown Sr. was swearing at Rhoden while Rhoden was trying to work. Glen Brown Sr. denied that he was swearing. Hollingsworth and Hubanks came to the scene to see that the job was finished.