KLRT reporter Katherine Johnson was in Gould, AR on Thursday, covering heightened political tension in the city over a recent ordinance passed banning all public and private meetings discussing any city matters within the city limits. She had just returned to the KLRT newsroom in Little Rock when she got a call from Gould mayor Earnest Nash, who told her he had been attacked by city council members and their families and was on the way to the hospital.
“We packed up in a live truck and headed back to Gould — 90 minutes away — calling city council members for confirmation the entire time,” Johnson told TVSpy in an email. When Johnson and her photographer, Matt Rowe, arrived in at the Gould city hall, there were about 50 people outside, arguing. Johnson grabbed the mayor and began the interview. “We were just in newscast mode and too focused with getting on the air as soon as possible to worry about anything else,” she said.
In the middle of Johnson’s interview — which you can watch above — a silver car drove up and council member Sonya Farley got out and began yelling at the mayor in a scene Johnson called “just tons of chaos.” The KLRT live truck died in the middle of the scene, but Rowe continued rolling, capturing the entire confrontation. “We got the truck working, let everyone at the station know we were ok, fed the video back and got out of there — as police asked,” Johnson said.
Johnson and Rowe returned the following day in hopes of speaking with Farley about the confrontation with Mayor Nash. Farley barricaded herself in a locked community center and refused to speak with the pair, less than 24 hours after storming Johnson’s live shot proclaiming, “you need to know the truth.”
“I’m staying on this story until the end and seeing it through,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of attention on Gould right now, and although we aren’t always welcome, we will keep going back until this book is finished.”