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Activists Rally In Springfield For Police Commissioner's Removal

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is standing by his police commissioner, Cheryl Clapprood, following a rally Wednesday calling for her to be fired.

The Massachusetts Senior Action Council organized the event, after members accused Clapprood of dismissing their concerns about racism in the police department.

Members of the group’s Springfield chapter had met virtually with Clapprood in April to discuss the possibility of police reform, but they say she did not accept their experiences with police profiling and other discrimination.

Clapprood later sent a letter saying there was no systemic racism in her department.

“Without even acknowledging that there's a problem, you'll never find a solution to it,” said Tony Bass, a Springfield member of the Massachusetts Senior Action Council. “So the community is saying we need someone else in that leadership position.”

Bass was among about 40 activists – plus City Councilors Tracey Whitfield and Justin Hurst – who rallied under the blazing sun on the steps of City Hall.

Emurriel Holloway said it was a good turnout considering the heat. She said she hoped the age and experience of the seniors would give them authority.

“We've been around long enough to just know the history of Black and brown people and the ideology of some of the behaviors that we see in policing,” Holloway said.

A spokesperson for Sarno said he is not considering removing Clapprood from her position.

In a statement, Sarno said he has spoken to Clapprood on “sensitivity issues” and plans to continue those discussions.

Clapprood sent a statement last week saying she acknowledges systemic racism in the criminal justice system, but remains a strong advocate for her officers.

Karen Brown is a radio and print journalist who focuses on health care, mental health, children’s issues, and other topics about the human condition. She has been a full-time radio reporter for NEPM since 1998.
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