Saying Ferguson ‘could happen’ in Holyoke, Springfield, Talbert Swan calls for special commissions

Police handcuff a protester after rushing the crowd to arrest him on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Mo. early Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. On Aug. 9, 2014, a white police officer fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year old, in the St. Louis suburb. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
By Anne-Gerard Flynn |
on August 20, 2014

SPRINGFIELD — Saying that the civil unrest that has followed the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen by a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson “could happen” in Springfield and Holyoke, the Rev. Talbert W. Swan II, president of the Greater Springfield NAACP, has requested that the mayors of these two cities establish special commissions to address issues that could prove to be “a powder keg.”

“Holyoke and Springfield are two urban centers that have a large population of persons of color,” Swan said. “They are also two cities with a sordid history around police-community relationships. These are two ingredients with potential for civil unrest.”

“What I am looking for,” Swan added, “is a commission that would address a myriad of issues that have led to problems. What has gone on before is the establishment of committees that addressed vary specific issues, or addressed those issues once the problems came to life. The commission I want would work year round, and would see problems before they come.”

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Real Talk: In violent times, Pastor Talbert Swan II calls on his community to stop waiting for reforms.

By Tom Vannah

advocatestory17972After a busy morning in his office at the Springfield chapter of the NAACP, a haircut and a quick lunch with his 19-year-old son, Rev. Talbert Swan II walks down Hampden Street in Springfield, headed for the broadcast studio of WGBY, the local PBS station. There, Swan will tape a segment of Connecting Point, an issues-based program hosted by Aliz Koletas and Jim Madigan. Swan has been asked to join Springfield Police Detective Sean Condon and Armando Olivares, a 20-year-old Springfield resident who was acquitted last year in the fatal shooting of Reality Shabazz Walker, in a discussion of a topic that has occupied a lot of his attention, not just recently, but over the course of more than three decades of social activism and Christian ministry: violence in Springfield.

In fact, on this particular Tuesday afternoon in June, Swan finds himself still embroiled in a controversy he set off the week before, when he delivered a pointed message about the recent spate of street violence in the city—violence that, over the course of a few weeks, came in the form of a number of drive-by shootings, some in broad daylight and near public parks filled with people—that resulted in three deaths and many serious injuries.

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General Membership Meeting

Join members of the NAACP in our monthly membership meeting. The next meeting will take place Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. at the Spring of Hope Church Of God In Christ, 35 Alden Street, Springfield, MA.

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