Between 400 and 500 people gathered at the intersection of Battlefield and Glenstone in Springfield on Saturday afternoon to support Black Lives Matter, protest racial injustice, and the death of George Floyd.
The protesters initially began by standing around the intersection and in the median areas; they eventually entered the roadway and blocked the intersection. The protesters then held their rally in the intersection before marching east on Battlefield, back to the Battlefield/Glenstone intersection, and then north on Glenstone.
The group chanted slogans such as “no justice, no peace”; “What’s his name? George Floyd! What did he do? Nothing!”; and “Black lives matter!” as they gathered in the intersection.
Several protesters said they were happy to see such a large turnout.
“Springfield showed up in droves,” Leon Johnson of Springfield told OI. “They showed up. I’m glad Springfield showed up today.”
Several of the protesters expressed their frustration over race relations in America, including a protester who would only identify himself as Zac.
“I grew up in inner-city Kansas City,” Zac said. “I’ve been policed, I’ve been policed since I’ve been here. I’ve talked to friends of mine, I’ve been in southwest Missouri since 1989 and I’ve been pulled over 12 times.”
Zac claimed that he’s been targeted by Greene County Deputies.
“I’ve had a Greene County Sheriff [deputy] pull up beside me, look in the car, see me, and drop back and turn his lights on,” Zac said. “Nevertheless, I always felt kind of safe because of my age. But George [Floyd] was 44, I’m 48. I just want to see the conversation turn to where caucasian people say we’ve had enough.”
Tray Walton, Sr. and his wife Agnes said they came out because of the George Floyd situation and because they want to see justice served.
Trey, a local pastor, said he would like to see more churches speaking out on racial equality.
“It’s vital for other churches to talk about this because this is something that affects all of us,” he said. “We have a son, and if he ever gets pulled over, I want to make sure he gets treated fairly. Racism has been here for a long, long time, but I think there needs to be discussion on how we can come together to take care of the problems at hand.”
Trey said he was not in favor of the violent protests around the country that’s resulted in buildings being burned down.
“If a building is burned down, you can’t go to work, you can’t support your family,” Trey said. “That’s something that needs to be thought about.”
Agnes said she came out to support a peaceful protest to support changes in how black men are treated by law enforcement in the nation. She said that she’s very concerned about what would happen if her son was pulled over by officers.
“I’m very fearful,” she said. “I don’t like him to be out on the streets at night or in certain places by himself. If they pull him over, will he panic? Will he resist? That seems to always be the big thing, claiming he’s resisting. I’m always fearful of that for my son.”
Here are some of the sights of the protest: