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Black Unity Supporters Return to Springfield for Protest

Elizabeth Gabriel


Black Unity held a protest Wednesday night for the Anniversary of the Elaine Massacre. This was one of the BLM group’s first events in Springfield since some of their members were assaulted by Springfield Police officers and counter-protesters in late July.


The protest was in honor of the 1919 Elaine Massacre in Arkansas. While Black people gathered at a church for community organizing before the group advocated for better wages. While there, two white officers began shooting at the group, resulting in many Black citizens being killed, as well as one of the white officers. Claiming they feared an uprising, white mobs killed and jailed hundreds of Black people in the area.


Credit Elizabeth Gabriel / KLCC News
Protest medics assist someone after they were sprayed in the eyes with a chemical.

During the march in Springfield, a small group of counter protesters trailed behind the crowd of about one hundred people. At least two Black Unity protesters were sprayed in the face by counter protesters with some kind of chemical. At least one protester was driven away in a car after the encounter. 


When protesters spoke about the history of the Elaine Massacre, counter protesters stood behind and antagonized the group, holding guns on their hips. Black Unity speakers later encouraged their supporters to know their open carry gun rights.

Elizabeth Gabriel is a former KLCC Public Radio Foundation Journalism Fellow. She is an education reporter at WFYI in Indianapolis.
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