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Springfield Mayor, Local NAACP Head Defend Ald. Gregory After Video Of Fight

Ward 2 Ald. Shawn Gregory speaks at a news conference Friday addressing recent gun violence in Springfield.
Mary Hansen
NPR Illinois
Ward 2 Ald. Shawn Gregory speaks at a news conference Friday addressing recent gun violence in Springfield.

Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder and Teresa Haley, president of the Springfield and Illinois chapters of the NAACP, voiced support for Ward 2 Ald. Shawn Gregory after a video was published of him in a fight.

The video, first reported by the radio station WMAY and taking place Thursday, shows Gregory in an argument with another man. The man pokes Gregory in the eye, and Gregory responds by punching him. The two wrestle to the ground for a minute before being separated.

“I want to apologize to my community for allowing a distraction of any kind to take away from the important work that I set out to do,” Gregory said, apparently in reference to the altercation, at a Friday news conference about a recent increase in gun violence in Springfield.

Gregory did not respond to requests for comment.

A Springfield police officer went to Gregory’s house shortly after the altercation and took a report, according to Police Chief Kenny Winslow. Winslow said neither Gregory nor the other man involved have decided to press charges.

Winslow said police officers have discretion to decide if a person should be arrested. In this case, the officer decided not to, which Winslow stands behind as there were no serious injuries. He compared it to a scuffle at a bar, where officers will often take a report but not arrest either party.

Langfelder said he talked with Gregory, who was regretful.

“Bottom line is they settled, like I used to sell it when I was younger, you settled it physically. You didn't resort to gun violence, you didn't resort to knives,” Langfelder said at the news conference.

The mayor said he understands that the two talked and resolved the dispute after the video ended, which could be “exemplified” as how people should resolve conflicts. As far as consequences for Gregory, Langfelder said he’d refer to the city’s attorney.

Haley, who is a resident of Ward 2, said she wished Gregory would have responded differently.

“We asked that he might have de-escalated it a little more, and step back and think,” Haley said.

She said the altercation could have been worse if guns or knives were involved, but they weren’t, and other city leaders have gotten in trouble for driving under the influence and other wrongdoing.

“Now it's time for Shawn to heal. And it's time for the community to support him, educate him and teach him,” Haley said. She said Ward 2 residents elected him and would stand behind him.

Mary Hansen is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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