Protesters Take To Springfield Streets, Rally Against Police Brutality

Jun 2, 2020

More than a thousand demonstrators shouting ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘No Justice, No Peace’ took to the streets in Springfield again Monday, demanding an end to racial injustices.

Protesters also called out the names of black men and women who lost their lives at the hands of the police, including Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, and the recent death of George Floyd.

Protesters lay on the ground at 2nd and Capitol in Springfield with their arms behind their backs during a Black Lives Matter Protest
Credit Olivia Mitchell/NPR Illinois

Sixteen-year-old Nykeyla Henderson, one of three young organizers, said she used social media to put the march together. She wants demonstrators to remain consistent.

“I hope this isn’t a one week thing, we stay mad for a week, and forget about this, let’s keep going, let’s keep the battle going,” Henderson said. “That’s our problem, we have to be consistent.”

Protesters marched around downtown, then back to the Capitol as some of them laid on the ground with their arms behind their back in remembrance of those who suffered.

Police vehicles escorted demonstrators as they marched through downtown. Public works trucks blocked intersections around the municipal complex, including the police headquarters and library.

Police Chief Kenny Winslow said the goal was to allow protesters to walk safely and keep traffic flowing.

Residents from Springfield, Peoria, and Chicago took the stage to tell stories about their encounters with the police, and some read poems. The majority of speakers offered words of encouragement, and applauded the diverse crowd for standing together in unity.

Adam Krall, who is white, said he came to protest to show solidarity for the people of color in his community and around the country.

“Even if there are cameras, it's still going to happen, because they did it with 10 cameras around, and nobody cared,” Krall said in reference to Floyd’s death.

Krall said he hopes the protests continue, but he feels the only way to prevent police involved murders would be civilian authority over police forces.

“You can’t have cops investigate cops, it doesn’t work like that,” Krall said.

Ariona Fairlee, one of the teenage organizers, said Floyd’s murder made her realize that the men in her family members could be in danger.

“Seeing another black man pass away made me feel like that was my brother out there, and I don’t want to see my brother, or my dad, or uncles out there getting mauled on,” Fairlee said. “And all you could do is record, that's all you could do, that should change.”

Some demonstrators said they will continue protesting until police officers who killed Floyd are held accountable.

Demonstrators march in downtown Springfield during a Black Lives Matter protest
Credit Olivia Mitchell / NPR Illinois

Unrest has erupted in cities around the country, where protesters have clashed with police. Chicago, Rock Island and Champaign have all issued curfews.

Winslow said the demonstrations have been mostly peaceful, including ones overnight Sunday into Monday.

Winslow and Mayor Jim Langfelder again encouraged residents to stay home after 9 p.m.

There was minimal property damage, which Winslow said they could not attribute to the protesters. A few businesses had their windows broken, and a handful of car windows smashed.

A few of the speakers at Monday’s rally criticized the Springfield Police Department. Winslow said during his seven-year tenure as chief he has focused on community policing and community-police relations.

“Then there are times when we mess up, when we screw up and then we just have to basically hold our people accountable, retrain them, so we don't make the same mistakes,” he said.

“I’m happy about what happened out here today,” Krall said. “There was no violence, and everybody came together.”