50 March

In Springfield on July 31 there was march to call on the commissioner of the city's police department to resign. About 50 people were at the march, Juanita Batchelor told the Valley Post. She runs a group that has a web site at https://SpringfieldJustice.org. Members of the Massachusetts Senior Action Council (www.MassSeniorAction.org) marched. A photo of some of the marchers is below. To enlarge the photo, click on it, then scroll down and click “see full size image.” photo by Massachusetts Senior Action Council

A rally for the same cause is set for August 9 at 11 a.m. at the Springfield Police Department, 130 Pearl Street.

On August 5 the Valley Post spoke by video call with Tony Bass, Tracey Carpenter, and Bernice Ezell. Bass is vice-president of the Council's Springfield chapter. Carpenter is an organizer with the Council. Ezell is board secretary for the western Massachusetts chapter of the Council, and she is on the group's statewide board. Carpenter and Ezell were at the march.

Bass, Carpenter, and Ezell have all lived in Springfield for decades. Bass runs a small business. Ezell is retired. For about 30 years Ezell was a nurse practitioner at the Brightwood Health Center in Springfield.

She said, “There is systemic racism in the Springfield police department dating back years. Last year, the federal justice department released a report that said the Springfield police department is one of the worst in the nation.”

The report said police officers in Springfield routinely punch people in the face for no good reason. The cops are never punished for doing this, the report said.

Bernice Ezell continued, “After George Floyd we asked to meet with the Springfield police commissioner. At the meeting, she was very dismissive of us. She denied there was any racism in her department. That prompted a rally that we organized on June 9. Then we met with the mayor and asked him to remove her. He refused. We want to elect someone else as mayor. The mayor appoints the police commissioner.”

Springfield is home to 154,000 people, 69 percent of whom are people of color. The mayor and police commissioner are both white.

Tracey Carpenter said, “We want community input into the future leadership of the Springfield police department.”

Tony Bass said, “At our meeting with her the commissioner was condescending to us. We grew up in this city. I have experienced racial bias by police and a private security guard. As a child here in Springfield I went to a department store to buy a baseball. I played Little League. A security guard frisked me. I'm 68 now. Once I was driving on a multi-lane road in Springfield. Other cars were passing me but I was pulled over for speeding. They searched my car.”

No nation keeps such a high percentage of its people in prison as the USA. Europe's rate is a third of ours.

The USA's prison system is racist. That's according to the book “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander.

While the chances of dramatically reducing the USA's prison population may seem small, in 1989, the chances of Nelson Mandela -- who was then seven years into a life sentence in prison -- becoming president of South Africa were also small. In 1994, Mandela was elected president and one of the world’s most brutal and racist governments was overthrown.

In the United States, 160 years ago, ending slavery and granting women the right to vote both seemed unlikely. Mass movements of ordinary people won justice.

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