Springfield protesters explain their motivations to march

Published: May. 30, 2020 at 11:09 PM CDT
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Hundreds of people took over Springfield streets today protesting police brutality and injustice for black people in America. It was part of nationwide outrage after the death of George Floyd. He was a Minneapolis, Minnesota man who died after a police officer there knelt on his neck.

The Springfield protesters first lined the streets near Glenstone and Battlefield with signs before taking over the intersection and marching through the city.

"I want justice, fair treatment for my son, all sons, all mothers' sons," said Agnes Walton.

Agnes and Tray Walton, Sr. saw their own son in George Floyd. Their fear as parents spurred their desire to protest.

"We have a common goal and that is to see that everybody is treated equal no matter the color of their skin and we deserve not to die in the streets at the hand of the police," Agnes said.

People from all races, religions and backgrounds joined them, including Kayleigh Anderson and Jon Spence.

"There's no one here that looks the same. It was almost encouraging," Anderson said. "It kind of gave me hope and I think that's what we're trying to do also is give people hope that things can get better."

Spence said, as a white man, he's aware he does not face the same struggles as his black and brown friends.

"We've had control of the narrative and it's time that we start learning from the minorities and the groups that have been oppressed," Spence said. "I hope today, that's something that those of us who are not people of color can really hope to gain and learn."

Jamille Jones, with Springfield's Black Lives Matter movement, said support from all ethnicities is imperative to incite change.

"Knowing that people who don't look like you understand the experience, or want to understand and want to support you through the experiences you're going through, it means a lot," Jones said.

Jones said no life matters more than another, but black lives are being lost due to injustice.

"The black movement is so deeply rooted in the US, it needs to be handled first, because without that, we get looked over," Jones said.

The protesters marched because they needed to mourn and they want to motivate this community to prevent a situation like the one in Minnesota.

"Our hope and our prayer is that that does not happen here," said Tray Walton.

The Springfield Police Department did have a presence at the protest. Officers said their goal was to monitor from a distance. They blocked traffic and shut down streets to keep protesters and drivers safe, but they said they did not want to heighten anxiety and only get involved when necessary.

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