Earlier this year, I reported on how Black Lives Matter is "more than just a hash-tag." That is obviously evident across the country as thousands of protestors have engaged in events and rallies meant to further the cause of bringing an end to police brutality and systemic racism in recent days.
In Springfield, multiple events with similar themes have happened over the past couple years, like prayer vigils and "town hall" meetings after Michael Brown was killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri. There were two peaceful rallies held over the weekend. I attended one on Saturday morning on the capitol lawn, in the shadow of the Abraham Lincoln statue. Sunshine Clemons, a legislative aide, was the organizer. She says putting together the rally was the best way she knew to respond to the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling: "Our movement says we matter as well as every other race, we're not saying we're the only ones who matter or that we matter more than anyone else. But because we have a extremely legitimate and valid message we are trying to push, I think that's why we get the support that we do." Clemons says she was pleasantly surprised by how many people attended the rally, which several people helped organize on short notice. There were roughly 100 in attendance who stood and listened to speakers, some held signs.
Clemons says she wants to start an official Black Lives Matter chapter in Springfield and has plans for that in motion. Right now, Champaign-Urbana is the only city in central Illinois with an official chapter, and I spoke with Kadeem Fuller who does community outreach for the area about a "good vibes only" event also held over the weekend. In the following segment, you will also hear from others at the Springfield rally at the capitol; Robert Moore is a police consultant and retired federal law enforcement officer. Activists Jaylin Netters and Gary Freeman tell us about a separate rally they were part of on Friday evening and their plans to have conversations with police: