SPRINGFIELD — UPDATE @ 12:20 p.m.:
Springfield city leaders have announced a curfew for parts of the downtown area from 6 p.m. through 6 a.m. Monday through Wednesday, in response to Sunday’s protests that saw tensions escalate with damage to buildings.
The curfew will be in effect over a few block radius, 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., starting Monday night and continuing into Wednesday morning:
- Northern border: East North Street
- Western border: Center Street
- Southern border: West Jefferson Street
- Eastern border: Spring Street.
Springfield Police Chief Lee Graf said the curfew is necessary to protect the community and warned that people who try to come into the curfew area will be arrested if they do not heed warnings to leave, when the curfew is in effect.
City and community leaders praised Sunday’s peaceful protesters but denounced those who escalated tensions that resulted in some property damage in the city.
Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said the city and police division remain committed to making all residents of the city, regardless of race, comfortable and part of the community, amid protests this weekend for the death of George Floyd.
Copeland reported that rocks were thrown at buildings, including city hall, after a mostly peaceful protest in the city.
Graf added the majority of vandals who caused damage in the downtown Springfield area were young, white males. Graf described the individuals as people looking to break things, and officers are looking at evidence and videos for potential charges, if they can identify the individuals involved.
UPDATE @ 10:20 a.m. (June 1):
City leaders will hold a news conference Monday addressing protests and damage to buildings in Springfield Sunday night, according to a city spokesperson.
Included in the news conference will be Mayor Warren Copeland, Police Chief Lee Graf, and city commissioners who will speak at noon.
The news conference comes after peaceful protests escalated into some buildings being damaged, including a window at city hall in downtown Springfield.
We’ll continue to update this story as new details become available.
INITIAL REPORT (May 31):
Until around 7 p.m. tonight, protests in Springfield were peaceful.
When police officers attempted to clear the area, things changed, and some people were seen throwing water bottles at the courthouse.
An armored vehicle and police officers wearing riot gear traveled down East Columbia Street, demanding protesters leave the area and some refused.
Officers then fired what appeared to be nonlethal weapons. It was a stark contrast from this afternoon in Springfield.
For many, the pain of George Floyd's final moments is still fresh on their hearts.
“I remember the riots of 65,” Evelyn Berrien told News Center 7′s Katy Andersen.
Berrien feels weight of still having to fight for equality 50 years later.
“Still same thing, and we really need to do something now because with the video cameras that we have. We have proof. It’s unfortunate we have to have that kind of proof, and as you know in the past – nothing has come of it.”
Protesters today marched, blocked off traffic at times and remembered and honored what they say are all the black lives lost from police brutality.
Kawamabee Moss is a member of Dreamvision, a local nonprofit that helped organize the protest.
"A lot of people say all lives matter. We understand that, we love everybody for who they are as a person. But at the same time, black lives right now are not getting the same justice," Moss said.
Except for the moment of upheaval, daytime in Springfield was peaceful.
“It starts with a conversation, but a serious one. We can’t have the same conversations that we have had in the past – they don’t work,” Berrien said.