Black Lives Matter rallies for mental health awareness at Capitol


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) –Dozens showed up at the capitol to speak out for Gregory Small.

Two months ago, Small was threatening to kill himself when his mom called the police. The police officer ended up shooting Small four times. Mental health professionals point to a situation like Small’s as a perfect example of why the system needs to change.

“I think the things that we need to work on it, it’s important for people that have a mental health issue to be responded to, in a professional way, not saying law enforcement doesn’t,” Diana Knaebe, President of Memorial Behavioral Health, said.

Small is facing a felony aggravated assault charge for allegedly jumping at police while holding a knife. Sangamon county state’s attorney Dan Wright has made it clear that he does not want Small to face jail time. He wants Small to go to mental health recovery court.

That would get Small the help that he needs at the cost of pleading guilty for the crime. Springfield Ward 2 alderman Shawn Gregory is one of many people who have contacted Wright asking for the charge to be dropped.

“I think we both agree that we hate to see situations like that, you know, he has his job to do which we want agree on those times. But, you know, we agree to work to work together to get this mental health section of our society,” Gregory said.

Small’s family does not want Small to go through treatment with a felony charge hanging over his head, even though it would be scrubbed if he finishes the program. Knaebe said there needs to be a systemic overhaul.

“I think that that’s part of the role of recovery court, hybrid courts, drug courts and those kinds of things,” Knaebe said. “So you’re involved in treatment, we start with accountability. So that’s a responsibility that to go back to the judge, and the others make sure that you’re following through. I Think until we fix the whole system, it is one option.”

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