Springfield protest planned for Saturday after death of George Floyd

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Police in Springfield hope to avoid any kind of rioting like what is happening in Minneapolis. But they're understanding of people wanting to share their opinions publicly this weekend.

Courtesy: Amanda Ryan

On Friday, KY3's Robert Hahn spoke with the organizers of protest planned for Saturday, called "Peaceful Protest for George Floyd. Say His Name."

Saturday's protest will be held at Glenstone and Battlefield, starting at 3 p.m. It follows one held Friday throughout downtown Springfield.

The protest comes in response to the death of George Floyd. A bystander's video showed Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck earlier this week, even as Floyd begs for air and slowly stops talking and moving.

"To be honest with you, I couldn't watch the video through," said one of the organizers, Austin Potter. "It broke my heart. It had me in tears."

Potter said he can't stand what's going on in America. The Floyd video pushed him to do something about it: planning a "peaceful protest" for Springfield on Saturday.

"We're sick of black men getting gunned down, wrongfully murdered and abused on the streets, and nothing ever happening," said Potter.

Potter's plans aren't unique. Minneapolis, Los Angeles, even Louisville, Kentucky have all seen them. Some of them peaceful. Some of them violent.

Fellow organizer Krista Sanders also had difficulty watching the video.

"I put myself in that man's position or his family's position for the simple fact that we also have a biracial son," said Sanders. "And what if that was my son one day."

In a statement released Friday, Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams said what happened in Minneapolis was "egregious and inexcusable", and added that his department respects the right to protest peacefully.

Governor Parson, visiting Springfield Friday, wasn't aware of the planned protest. But as a former sheriff, he said he understands the anger.

"The main thing you do is protect people," said Governor Parson. "And that was a poor example of trying to protect a citizen."

Austin and Krista hope the protest, which has more than 800 people on Facebook "interested" in going, unites people as one.

"We want everyone to be able to be loud and have their voices heard, get your message across," said Sanders. "But try to remain peaceful as much as possible. We are not trying to have any type of violence tomorrow."

KY3 received a statement from Greene County's Sheriff Jim Arnott today, too. He said, "I think everyone in my profession feels that this is a horrible tragedy and not a reflection of law enforcement in this country. I pray for George Floyd's family and hope that justice is served swiftly."