PHOTOS: Protesters Gather Outside Closed City Council Work Session On Police Accountability
Protesters gathered on Thursday afternoon outside of City Hall for a funeral procession to remember people in Colorado Springs killed by police. Protesters wore black and brought flowers and photos to carry as they walked through downtown.
The Chinook Center, Empowerment Solidarity Network and Colorado Springs DSA collaborated to organize the event.
The procession was led by Stephany Rose Spaulding, with speakers including Kevin Mitchell of the Empowerment Solidarity Network.
The procession took place at the same time as a closed Colorado Springs City Council work session. The work session was focused on police oversight and accountability.
This was a continuation of conversations from earlier in the year. A group of community members, two officers, and council member Wayne Williams came together in March to discuss policing practices and attended a gathering by the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement.
They were set to present their recommendations later in June at a work session, but the timeline was moved up in response to continued protests denouncing police brutality.
In an earlier interview with KRCC, Chinook Center board member Samantha Christiansen said she was critical of the city's response to protesters' concerns thus far.
"We need them to take some action that shows that it's not just talk," said Christiansen, "We got a lot of talk on this issue already when we were mobilizing last summer. We were told that everyone thought this was very serious and...then it was never mentioned again."
She said she and other protesters are looking for "a real sign of commitment" from the city.
"We have had enough talk," said Christiansen. "I think that's what this movement is about. People are tired of getting lip service from city officials and we want to see real change."
Stephany Rose Spaulding led and spoke at the procession on Thursday. She is the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church and an associate professor of Women's and Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.
In an earlier interview with KRCC, she said she was encouraged by the community representation at protests over the past few weeks.
"While I am extremely weary about the racial violence and trauma that I continue to see and experience," said Spaulding, "if we can channel this moment into a transformation opportunity, then I will do this all day."
Kevin Mitchell, with the Empowerment Solidarity Network, addressed protesters and led chants as the day went on.
"Defund the police! Prosecute the police! Black lives matter! Black is beautiful! Black is powerful," said Mitchell as hundreds of people echoed his words in the crowd.
Inside the closed City Council work session, Council President Richard Skorman recommended looking at proposals as early as next week to address policing issues.
"Let's see what we can do to get something going soon," he said. "The community is demanding it, we want it, everybody wants it, and so let's see what we can do to make this work."
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