SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A peaceful protest to stand in solidarity against police brutality nationally and locally, took place in Springfield over the weekend.
Organizers hope to bring awareness to what’s happening around the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
“I had a conversation with my 11-year-old daughter and it was terrible,” Charles Stokes of Springfield expressed. “She should be playing road blocks or Mine-Craft but here she is asking me, are they going to kill me?”
Protesters, local politicians, and community leaders all spoke out against police corruption.
Yes, George Floyd died but we’ve had people die right here in the City of Springfield. And we’re here to say that Springfield has to do better and become more accountable for the citizens of this city, in terms of the corruption in our own police department.Bishop Talbert Swan, Greater Springfield NAACP President
There was a fight in the parking lot near Nathan Bill’s Bar and Restaurant in 2015 – that involved off-duty Springfield police officers and a group of black men. Fourteen officers were indicted by the Attorney General’s office, but only 7 were on-duty that night. Commissioner Clapprood reinstated five officers who were not involved in the altercation but are under ongoing criminal investigation, due to Covid-19 related staffing issues.
Hundreds of people gathered in the parking lot of Nathan Bill’s Bar & Restaurant before the protest Saturday. Organizers said they expected a couple thousand people to join them on their way to Nathan Bill Park in Springfield.
“We’re just tired,” said Tracye Whitfield, organizer of the protest and Springfield City Councilor At-Large. “We’re tired of black people being the target. We’re tired of the injustices, socially and economically. All lives do matter. But all lives can’t matter until black lives matter.”
Saturday’s protest took only three days to organize and organizers largely credit social media and the power of young people for spreading the word.