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Springfield Mayor Calls For National Healing

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno
Paul Tuthill

     The mayor of Springfield, Massachusetts Monday called for a time of national healing.

    Mayor Domenic Sarno began his weekly update on the city’s response to COVID-19 by requesting a moment of silence for the people who have died from the virus, for the victims of the June 1st, 2011 tornado and for George Floyd – the Black man whose death a week ago when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck has sparked nationwide protest and unrest.

  "All of us agree that what occured was atrocious and unacceptable,"  Sarno said of Floyd's death.

         Sarno said the violent confrontations between what he said were a small percentage of protestors and police, the destruction of property, and looting, were dishonoring the legacy of Floyd.  He said the issues his death raised need to be addressed.

  "The cause, the message must continue to be about what unjustly occured with George Floyd," said Sarno.

   The mayor said talks are underway with leaders of the Pastors’ Council of Greater Springfield about holding a community prayer service later this week.

   There was a protest in Springfield Friday afternoon with several hundred people in front of the Springfield Police Department headquarters.

"We honor and respect peaceful protest," said Sarno.

  Springfield police have worked hard to build community relations, according to Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood.

  "We know we cannot work in a silo, we need the community," said Clapprood, who added " and we have made such great strides here in Springfield."

  Clapprood said Springfield police are trained in ways to deescalate potentially violent situations and also receive ethics training to “break down the blue wall of silence” – a culture that has long encouraged police officers not to report wrongdoing by fellow cops.

    "We know we have had some incidents and we have addressed them," said Clapprood.

   Dr. Robert Roose, the chief medical officer at Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, said there is some risk the protests could help spread the coronavirus.

   "We will hopefully not see that occur, but there is the potential these two things will intersect and together cause more harm," said Roose.

  The number of new coronavirus cases in Springfield continues to decline day-by-day.  Credit should go to the people who have heeded the calls for social distancing and wearing face-coverings, said Springfield’s Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris.

   " I am extremely appreciative of the work done by our residents and our businesses to control this virus and contain this virus," said Caulton-Harris.

   Hospitalizations for COVID-19 continue to drop.  The Baystate Medical network had just 41 cases as of Monday, compared with 63 cases a week ago.

  Sarno said the reopening to the public of some government buildings last week and the re-staffing of offices at 25 percent capacity had gone well.   A number of city officials are working on ways to assist restaurants that may want to offer outside dining when that becomes an option.


Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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