George Floyd: Springfield church leaders create dialogue with police

George Floyd: Springfield church leaders create dialogue with police
Protests in Springfield on Sunday (Jenna Lawson)

SPRINGFIELD — As the nation mourns the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a group of church leaders in Springfield is taking a proactive step to prevent future problems between the community and law enforcement.

Pastor Ernest Brown Sr., St. John Missionary Baptist Church, said the time is right for a renewed dialogue with the Springfield Police Division and the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

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He told News Center 7 they hope to avoid the same kind of racism and systemic problems that have been seen in other cities.

“We would have to be ignorant to think some of it does not exist but we have not had any overt situation here in Springfield. We want to make sure that does not happen. So we want to keep a good relationship with our law enforcement. We want them to have a good relationship with the community,” Brown said.

Pastor Carl Ruby, of Springfield’s Central Christian Church, said they hope to address some important issues.

“Things like racial profiling and police brutality so that those kinds of things do not happen. The police and sheriff’s department are committed too,” Ruby said.

Springfield Police Chief Lee Graf is anxious to see the group get started.

Springfield had a Community Police Advisory Board many years ago, he said, noting he wants to build a better ongoing relationship with a diverse group of people.

“I think that is the most important thing, for people to understand that their law enforcement agency is approachable and for law enforcement to understand that the community is approachable as well,” the chief said.