Groups demand Arkansas sheriff’s resignation after he admits to using racial slur ‘occasionally’

DES ARC, Ark. – Two groups, including one of Arkansas’s political parties, are calling on the immediate resignation of the Prairie County sheriff after he admitted that he uses racial slurs.

Sheriff Rick Hickman made the remarks Tuesday during an interview with Working 4 You that surrounded a comment he made in March on a recorded phone line.

Democratic Party of Arkansas chair Grant Tennille called Hickman unfit to hold office.

“Hickman has lost the respect, trust and cooperation of many of his constituents, and Prairie County is less safe while he wears a badge,” Tennille said.

Hickman was notified in March by the county’s communication center about a shooting that killed three people. The dispatcher can be heard describing where the shooting happened.

“The house next to the apartments,” the dispatcher told Hickman.

The sheriff replied, “Oh, really. Black people then.”

The sheriff, who is running for re-election, said some former employees are out to slander him and the controversy over the call is politically motivated. When asked if he has used racial slurs before, Hickman said it was likely.

“Probably, in the past, but you know it is what it is. Everybody does,” Hickman said. “I don’t use the N-word a lot, but occasionally, I might have said it.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), based in Washington D.C., also called for Hickman’s resignation.

“Someone who admits to using racist slurs is clearly unfit to protect and serve a diverse population,” Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’S national communications director, said. “We urge Sheriff Hickman to resign and instead pursue a career that does not impact the lives of minority communities.”

Despite the groups calling on him to resign, Hickman said Wednesday that he will not.

“I’m not resigning,” Hickman said by phone.

The Jacksonville chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Interim President Reginald Ford has not called on Hickman’s resignation but said the sheriff should hold himself to a higher standard.

“If records exist of racial incidents in Sheriff Hickman’s record as a public servant, then further scrutiny may be warranted,” Ford said. “Let the citizens of Prairie County decide if Mr. Hickman’s comments align with their own racial values.”

The Prairie County Judge was not in the office, but his administrative assistant said he did not want to comment. Prairie County Justice of the Peace Ronnie Eans calls this dirty politics.

“He’s the best sheriff we’ve ever had in my lifetime,” Eans said, adding that he’s never heard the sheriff say something offensive.

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