Saline Co. Black Caucus demands more action from city leaders - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Saline Co. Black Caucus demands more action from city leaders

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HARRISBURG -- Concerned citizens demand action from city leaders after a controversial Facebook post by the Harrisburg police chief.

“He’s a symptom of a larger issue that’s just being ignored,” said Harrisburg resident Simone Neal. “There’s more than just a Facebook comment, his behavior is part of a larger problem and it’s called systemic racism."

In October, Police Chief David Morris posted a photo of a police vehicle in Chicago on another officer's Facebook page. The caption read, "BREAKING NEWS: The Chicago Police Dept has replaced all sirens with the national anthem, to force suspects to stop running and take a knee."

At last month's city council meeting, residents spoke out about the post, calling it inappropriate. That's where Morris defended himself, saying he had no racial intent for the post, which has since been taken down.

Morris came under fire again for his recent comments made to The Southern. Residents spoke out during a city council meeting Thursday night, calling the comments “divisive.”

“Where he said that the good black people of Harrisburg supported him and that the ones that are complaining are complaining because they have relatives that have been arrested," Neal said. 

Marc Hodge, who’s a member of the newly formed Saline County Black Caucus, also spoke out. He said he’s known Morris for years and called his actions out of character and surprising. 

“But his failure to own it, again, it just seemed like he continued to dig the hole deeper," Hodge said. 

Neal also brought up previous incidents where she said leaders failed to take action. One situation included a commissioner referring to Harrisburg citizens as the n-word. She did not say which commissioner used the word. 

Shortly after, board member Mike Weirauch admitted to using the n-word during the incident Neal brought up. He said he used it while two children were using the n-word and fighting across the street from his porch.

“That was me, I used it in anger and it was a poor choice of words, I should have not done that,” Weirauch said.

Citizens said they want to see more action from city leaders.

Harrisburg Mayor John McPeek told News 3 he plans to work with an attorney to revamp their social media policy and make it more specific. He also said he plans to work more with the community.

“Hopefully, myself and the city council can work with the black caucus group and remove any problems we have in the future," McPeek said.

Harrisburg neighbors, like Neal, plan to hold leaders accountable. 

“We all not only deserve to be heard, we deserve not to be dismissed and we deserve to see a resolution and some attempt to improve the community that we’re raising our kids in," Neal said.

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