Thousands gather for protest, march in downtown Springfield over racial injustice

Published: Jun. 6, 2020 at 3:05 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Thousands braved the heat in Springfield to protest over racial injustice for a second straight Saturday.

The protest drew an estimated 2,500 people Saturday afternoon, according to Springfield police.

The protest began at Park Central Square in downtown Springfield around 3 p.m. It consisted of several speakers and a march around downtown Springfield.

Police closed off several streets while groups marched throughout downtown. The march brought people to several sites, including City Hall, the Springfield Police Department station on E. Chestnut and the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge.

Saturday’s protest was also provided opportunities for civic involvement. A voter registration booth allowed residents to register to vote in upcoming elections, while multiple state representatives also attended.

Brian Williams (D-Ferguson) was among state leaders who attended and encouraged others to register to vote.

"Demanding accountability of your elected officials is extremely important," said Williams. "If you don't have folks in office that are going to go to their respective bodies and advocate for the interest of the people, then you're going to run into these challenges all the time."

Several downtown businesses kept their doors open, some offerings goods and services to help protesters.

Harbell's and Civil Kitchen were among the businesses who stayed open throughout the protest to pass out water to protesters.

The Golden Girl Rum Club offered face masks and sunscreen for those in need.

"This is an important part of people in our community, and we are definitely here to support," said Rogan Howitt, owner of The Golden Girl Rum Club.

Temperatures climbed past 90 degrees during the protest and march. Many protesters created signs, wore face masks and chanted "Black Lives Matter" throughout the day.

Springfield police say two people were arrested Saturday afternoon, but neither of them were protesters.

According to the Springfield Police Department, the first arrest was unrelated to the protest and involved an intoxicated man who assaulted a police officer. The second individual was arrested for peace disturbance.

Saturday's protest followed back-to-back days of protests last weekend near Glenstone and Battlefield in south Springfield.

The protests come in response to the death of George Floyd in late May. A bystander’s video showed Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, even as Floyd begs for air and slowly stops talking and moving.

Some of the highlights captured below via Twitter and Facebook:

Photos from the protest are included in the gallery below.