Police, Businesses Prepare For Saturday Rally

BENTONVILLE (KFSM)-- Police and businesses prepare for the event that is scheduled to take place Saturday afternoon after rumors spread about counter protesters.

Gene Page, the public information specialist with the Bentonville Police Department said they are making plans to keep everyone safe during the event.

Right now, the only official group that will be there is the March for Our Lives group.

This group is asking for gun reform from the local government.

Rumors have spread though that groups with white nationalist affiliations and ANTIFA will also be attending.

Page said they have seen social media posts from groups like this, but is unsure if they will show up.

Police are still preparing to make sure the have everything they need if things go bad.

“Safety has to come first and that’s where we have to make sure we are keeping vehicles out of that but keep it open to where people can move in and out," Page said. "Once they have done their portion of it or they are ready to go, they can move in and out and freely get back to their vehicles, open the roads and things like that. So safety is number one.”

Police also delivered letters to business owners and residents of the Bentonville Square.

The letter states that the counter protests groups will be advocating open carry of firearms, the Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights.

Some store owners said regardless of who shows up tomorrow, they still plan on being open.

Selina Aguirre, the co-owner of Rollie Pollie, said closing her doors didn't even cross her mind for a second.

“If anything were to happen, why wouldn’t I be here to be able to open up my doors for families to come in here for safety?" Aguirre said.

She is confident that things will remain peaceful as people voice their differing opinions.

“I think that we shouldn’t be led by fear and I have a lot of faith in our police that they will protect us and I have a lot of faith in our community," Aguirre said. "I think that we live in a great area where we can discuss the differences and still respect each other and I hope that remains true tomorrow.”

Others are not as optimistic.

Marian Ruesink is the co-owner of Blue Moon on the Square.

She said plan to close their doors until everything is over for the safety of their customers and family.

“We’ve talked about it back and forth," Ruesink said. "You know it’s a hard decision because the fact that tomorrow is a big money-making day for us. We make good money and it’s the weekend before Easter. It wasn’t an easy decision but we’ve just chosen to go ahead and close our doors.”

Ruesink is worried the event will turn into a riot and does not want to put other in that situation if it were to happen.

She and other businesses that are closing plan to open around three once the event is over.

Page warns people who may have had other plans on the square or drive in the area that parking will be limited and many roads will closed to traffic.