June 1, 1980
Between 2,000 and 3,000 Cuban refugees who had fled Cuba seeking political asylum and were housed at Fort Chaffee near Barling (Sebastian County) rioted on the fort property. Four buildings were set on fire; sixty-two injuries were reported (including five guards). Newspaper reports described the citizens of Barling and other area communities arming themselves for protection against an anticipated Cuban refugee invasion. Governor Clinton gave Gene Eidenberg—the White House official whom President Carter had placed in charge of the Cuban refugee issue—a tour of Barling the night of June 1–2, impressing upon him the danger of confrontation between Marielitos and local residents. On June 2, a promise was made that no additional Cuban refugees would be sent to Arkansas.