SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — We sat down with Springfield activists after the news that four former Minneapolis officers are now charged in relation to the death of George Floyd.
For nearly a week, demonstrations and protests of all sizes have unfolded across Springfield. A protest occured on Wednesday for the 5th straight day in Springfield, but a major development occurred in Minnesota as well.
According to CBS, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng all face aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder, as well as aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
They are the three other officers who were directly involved in the arrest that lead to the death of George Floyd.
Derek Chauvin, the officer who drove his knee into the back of Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, had his charged upped to 2nd degree murder on Wednesday as well.
KOLR10 spoke to some of those who have been part of the movement against racial injustices and police brutality locally to get their reaction to the news.
One man helping organize protests is longtime Springfield resident Larry Flenoid II. He says Wednesday’s news gave some sense of justice, but they will still fight for change across the board.
“The movement that we’re building here in Springfield – although it started with George Floyd it’s going to end with equality and inclusion,” says Flenoid II. “For us here locally, it changes it a little bit, but it doesn’t change the bigger picture. As far as like legislation towards policing. Those are the ones that are sworn to protect and serve the community. So when they break the laws, or beat a person with police brutality, we think they should get some of the harshest penalties.”
Flenoid II says the change they want to make starts with peaceful protesting. He says they want to prove those wrong who have been stereotyping them as things like “thugs”.
“We don’t want to tear up our own community. We love this community. If we didn’t love this community we wouldn’t be fighting so hard to try and progress it,” says Flenoid II.
That mentality trickles down to the younger activists, like Ra Calloway, 21. He and his friends Seth Lee, 18, and Isaiah Burnett, 18, have been making an effort to rally the youth.
“A lot of people try to write us off before we even go and do anything and they start calling us ‘rioters’ and they think we’re going to loot Springfield,” Calloway says.
Calloway extends an open invitation to those in power to join them in protests planned this weekend.
“The legislators, these councilmen and all these people – I want to see them out here with us. Most of these young people don’t know your faces. They don’t know who you are. They don’t know what you can and can’t do. If you came down here and spoke to us, you told us face to face that you care about us and that you’ll do what you need to do to make this problem go away – I would have much more respect,” Calloway explains.
Among future demonstrations is a protest planned for Saturday, June 6 at the Downtown Square.
Flenoid, who plans to give a speech around 3:15 pm, says one of the biggest goals is to make sure people also make their voices heard at the polls.
He says they have been making an effort to get protestors registered at their events.