SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Demonstrators gathered at the High School of Commerce in Springfield Saturday afternoon in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Protesters were asked to wear black to represent the movement, as well as wear masks amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

As they peacefully marched down to Springfield City Hall, many donned signs for no more cops in schools while also chanting “Whose school? Our school!”

Organizers told 22News, the Springfield Public Schools system spends nearly $1 million a year putting police officers in school buildings. They added that police in schools contribute to the over disciplining and the criminalization of students of color, especially Black students.

22News spoke with one local youth leader to discuss why organizers are calling for the removal of police presence at Springfield Public schools.

“We want cops out of our schools, we feel like there has been far too many incidences of assaulting students from high school to elementary also intimidation as well,” Richard Parris-Scott of the Pioneer Valley Project explained. “We think the resources can be put towards other things like the arts.”

Tia Austin who spoke at Saturday’s protest told 22News, “We come to school to learn, to get an education, so we can be better and do better, and you can’t do that if you’re not comfortable, if you’re not able to walk the halls without fear.”

Saturday’s protest was run by students and the Pioneer Valley Project, which is a non-profit organization whose mission is to build community and power for justice and the common good.