August 20, 2014 Mayor Domenic Sarno City of Springfield 36 Court Street Springfield, MA 01103 Dear Mayor Sarno, I am writing on behalf of the Greater Springfield NAACP. We are concerned that the unsettling circumstances, leading to so much unrest, civil disruption and disquiet in Ferguson, Missouri could happen in Springfield, Massachusetts, as well as many communities throughout our nation. In retrospect, what is evident is that Ferguson city leadership failed to take the necessary steps in advance of last week and in the initial days of the unrest, to address several underlying issues. As a result, the city’s leadership is now seen by the nation as having a deficit regarding good governance, appropriate law enforcement procedures and equitably addressing the concerns of all citizens. Unfortunately, many of the same contributing elements, which precipitated the unrest in Ferguson, exist in the City of Springfield. Accordingly, the Greater Springfield NAACP respectfully requests that you take immediate steps to establish a commission to identify, analyze and make recommendations regarding the underlying issues, which may potentially cause unrest. These issues include but are not limited to:
Cultural competency of law enforcement and the fair representation of all people in the criminal justice system
Appropriate use of lethal force by law enforcement
Potential conflicting practices by law enforcement with the guarantees of the First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution
Addressing the issues of respect between law enforcement and diverse communities. To be credible, the commission must be composed of law enforcement officials, members from the legal, business and faith communities, and community residents and leaders. Many, if not all of the disturbing circumstances, which may lead to civil unrest, property destruction and violence, do exist in the City of Springfield.