Over 300 people met at Southeast High School in Springfield on Thursday to talk about racial profiling and its effect on African American youth, among other things. It was hosted by the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as a response to the fatal shooting of Micheal Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and its aftermath.
Tense race relations are nothing new to Springfield. The NAACP famously got its start as a result of a racially charged riot that occurred here in 1908. Those who attended the meeting, which included the Springfield Police Chief and various representatives of the African American community, spoke about ways to alleviate racial tensions that might prevent such events from unfolding again. The public was invited to chime in too. Themes of the evening were improving police conduct, and instilling respect and a better awareness of black history in schools.
Justin Rose, recent UIS graduate and a member of the Black Male Collegiate Society, says the situation in Ferguson has left him in fear that he could be a victim of police brutality. “I had no choice but to be afraid. At any given moment, that could have been my life – I could have lost my life. I could lose my life if I leave this building and I don’t act accordingly,” Rose told the crowd. A similar meeting is expected to take place again in November