Champaign Community Leaders Call For End To Gun Violence
By Sean Powers
A string of recent shootings over the last few days in Champaign has prompted calls to end the violence.
On Monday morning, business owners, church leaders, and other community members on the city's north side held a press conference at the Champaign City Building, urging the public to step up and reach out to people who may be prone to violence.
"We must...work together, cease fire, and stop the bloodshed now to make our community safe for our families, for our children, and for our community," Champaign City Council Member Will Kyles said.
Lekevie Johnson is the pastor at Jericho Missionary Baptist Church. He said residents in the neighborhoods where the shootings occurred are now too afraid to go outside their homes.
He is pushing for a grassroots effort to go door-to-door, reaching out to people who may carry out gun violence.
“We have people who we’re in contact with who are members of our church, who have individuals (tied to these shootings),” Johnson said. “So, we want to have influence on those family members in an effort they will reach out to their family members, and this will cease.”
Janice Mitchell is the parent-community outreach coordinator for the Urbana school district. She is working with Champaign and Urbana’s Police Advisory Committees to draft a plan to curb gun violence in the African American community.
“Gun violence is not just about African Americans,” Mitchell said. “However, the more recent shootings in Champaign, it has been black-on-black. It’s African Americans that are shooting. That’s why we’ve called together the African American communities to see can we connect with those families, those friends, the faith based where these people are part of.”
Champaign County NAACP Patricia Avery said while community building is a major part of tackling gun violence, it is not the only solution.
“We’re looking for more jobs for these young men,” Avery said. “We are looking for more activities for the young kids, so that they’re away from this violence and safe. I think about some of the centers we’ve closed are close to these areas where these shootings are taking place.”
Since Sunday afternoon, Champaign police have responded to four shootings, which have left six people wounded. Authorities continue their investigations and have so far arrested 23 year-old, Jamonte Hill, of Champaign for Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm, in connection with one of the shootings.
Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers at 217- 373-8477 (TIPS).