Statement About the Detention of a Member at the Annual Meeting

By Ms. Anna Hubbard posted 06-16-2024 05:48 PM


On June 14 during our Arkansas Bar Association annual meeting in Hot Springs, one of our members was detained, then released without charges, after she made petitions available to ArkBar meeting attendees in support of a ballot initiative led by Arkansas Citizens for Transparency.

As an association that supports the right to free speech, government transparency and the rule of law and is committed to upholding the U.S. and Arkansas Constitutions, we are greatly concerned by Friday’s events. We fully support our members’ rights to free speech.

The Association does not have a written policy about members circulating petitions at its meetings. But the Hot Springs Convention Center, which has hosted portions of the ArkBar annual meeting for the last 15 years, does have a policy that prohibits solicitation, petitioning, protesting and picketing on the premises. Throughout the week, convention center personnel had conversations with the ArkBar member about the center’s solicitation policy.

Despite reporting in the media, no one associated with the ArkBar – staff or leadership – asked for the member to be removed from the property during the convention. As part of our convention review process, we will be looking into all aspects of Friday’s events in detail with our Board of Trustees over the coming weeks.

Our priority is to uphold the values of our association and our members. Association staff and its Board of Trustees are committed to supporting the right to free speech and encouraging members to engage in empathetic discourse and civility. We know there are many varied opinions about issues facing our state, and this Association is committed to protecting the rule of law and supporting the right of citizens to exercise free speech in our state and country.

— The Arkansas Bar Association