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Equity is our race, culture, ethnicity, and identity blog. The blog focuses on coverage important to Illinois and its improvement. Evidence of performance of public policies and their impact will be reported and analyzed. We encourage you to engage in commenting and discussing the coverage of equity and diversity:Maureen Foertsch McKinney and Rachel Otwell curate this blog that will provide follow-up to full-length stories, links to other reports of interest, statistics, and conversations with you about the issues and stories.

Springfield NAACP President On What Ferguson Has Taught Us

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It's been about a week since the decision was made not to indict police officer Darren Wilson after the shooting death of Michael Brown. Reactions to that decision are still resulting in protests, prayer vigils, and round-table discussions across the nation.

In Springfield, Teresa Haley who heads the local chapter of the NAACP has been at the center of much of the events concerning issues like racism and police brutality -- issues that Ferguson has brought to the forefront of many peoples' minds.

Listen to our interview with Haley, here: 

Regarding her initial reaction to the news that police officer Darren Wilson will not be charged with a crime, Haley says: “This is just another civil rights violation in the fact that someone else was killed – and (someone) got away with it.” She says it wasn’t surprising though, given our country’s historical context. “Things have not changed, and we have to work with our police department and our city to make sure the police department is more reflective of our city … Our police department does not look like the community that it represents,” said Haley. As of September of this year about 4% of city police were black. As of 2010, 18.5% of residents in the city limits were black.

Haley also spoke about the need for more minorities working in District 186. She says she does believe Superintendent for Springfield public schools, Jennifer Gill, is doing a good job at addressing race, however, “We still have a long way to go. And one of those things that we need to work on with them as well is the recruitment and the retention of black teachers,” said Haley. She also said she supported a decision that Gill made to tell teachers to refrain from talking about the decision out of Ferguson right after it happened. “I didn’t have a problem with Jennifer’s decision because I wouldn’t want a teacher who wasn’t prepared to adequately deal with it, discussing it. Sometimes it can cause more harm than helping the situation,” said Haley.

Rachel Otwell of the Illinois Times is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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