SPRINGFIELD — Protesters held signs and stopped traffic on State Street in solidarity with those dissatisfied with a grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri.
Members of Out Now and Arise for Social Justice marched down State Street and over to the Springfield Police Department station on Pearl Street holding signs with slogans such as "Stop Police Brutality." The dozen or so protesters stopped traffic on State Street as they formed a line holding the signs and chanting "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!"
"We are not satisfied with the verdict that was passed yesterday and nobody should be. I stand with Ferguson, my thoughts are with Ferguson," said Shae Nunez, a young protester who also participated in protests in Holyoke and Westfield last night. "Honestly, the system was not made for people of color. It was made to protect white people and white people's property and it needs to be torn down and be rebuilt because we obviously don't fit inside it."
Protesters across the country are upset with the decision made by a St. Louis County grand jury not to indict Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown during an August confrontation, setting off weeks of protests and unrest in the predominantly black suburb of St. Louis.
The unrest reignited Monday night shortly after the the grand jury's decision was announced. Protesters overturned cars, blocked traffic and started fires as law enforcement officials attempted to contain crowds in Ferguson and elsewhere across the nation. This is the second time in as many days that a crowd gathered to protest in Springfield.
The group had a moment of silence at the police station followed by more chanting. Stickii Quest, a representative of Out Now, said the group stands with Ferguson.
"We need to stand in solidarity ... because not only are cops in our cities corrupt and brutal and take our lives, but systematically the police are set up against us," he said.
Quest said the turnout for the protests has not been as large as they would like because people are scared.
"I think a lot of people are afraid of the violence that's been going on and nobody wants to be targeted as a violent person," he said. "We are non-violently protesting, but I think some people are afraid they will be confused with the looters and arsonists and they don't want to get caught up in that."
The group hopes voicing their thoughts on the issue will help bring change across the nation.
"The system needs to be changed. We are no longer standing for the fact that black people die every day at the hands of the police and people of color in general are marginalized and sent into institutions. Our rights are being taken away, and nobody seems to care or notice," he said.