News Local/State

Candidate Pawar To Join Anti-Violence March In Danville

Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar.

Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar, who plans to take part in an upcoming Three Kings of Peace anti-violence march in Danville. Ameya Pawar campaign

The Three Kings of Peace will hold another one of its neighborhood anti-violence marches in Danville on Saturday. And this time, organizers are expecting an out of town guest ---- gubernatorial candidate Ameya Pawar.

The Chicago alderman is one of eight Democrats currently running for Illinois governor. According to Ed Butler, one of the organizers of the Three Kings of Peace, Pawar asked to join in one of the Saturday marches that the group has been holding on a regular basis since last summer.

The march, on Saturday, July 22nd  starting at 6 PM, will take place on North Griffin Street, starting from the corner of East Seminary Street, proceeding north to East Williams Street and back again. The march is open to all.

Butler, who also heads the Danville Branch of the NAACP, said Pawar’s request came as a surprise.

“He felt that he needed to come and march with us because he also had concerns about the violence in the communities”, said Butler. “And I didn’t think that any persons out of town really knew about us or was concerned.”

Pawar says his own background in social work and disaster planning helps him to see the value of the grassroots community work done by the Three Kings of Peace. Comparing it to Chicago’s Cure Violence group (formerly known as CeaseFire), Pawar says “they’re the ones who are going to help work with the community to make sure that we prevent things from turning into major, major events. And that work is hard. It can only happen at the grass roots level”.

The Saturday anti-violence marches held by the Three Kings of Peace continue through the summer until school starts. Butler says he and Pastor Frank McCullough and Nate “Bo-Bo” Smalls --- the “Three Kings” of the organization --- launched the weekly marches last summer, after a string of shootings occurred in Danville during Memorial Day weekend. 

Butler says the marches have gained the support of local authorities, with Danville Mayor Scott Eisenhauer, some city council members, Public Safety Director Larry Thomason and State Sen. Scott Bennett coming to participate.

Butler says he was inspired to hold the marches in seven areas in Danville where violence and drugs were a particular problem, and to seek help through the use of seven prayers.

By talking to young people in Danville schools, and focusing on the theme of “If you see something, say something”, Butler says the Three Kings of Peace have been able to make progress in reducing violence on Danville streets. He says three people who were involved in shooting in Danville last year have been taken off the street, thanks to greater willingness among Danville youth to tell authorities about the violence and crime that they see.

Ameya Pawar plans a public meeting before the march, Saturday at 4:30 (doors open at 4 PM) at Vermilion County Democratic Headquarters, 15 North Vermilion Street in downtown Danville. The meeting is a campaign event, and not connected to the Three Kings of Peace.

After this Saturday, the Three Kings of Peace has scheduled marches for July 29th, starting at the corner of Bremer and Kentucky streets, and on August 5th at Fairchild and Fowler.  Butler says the marches will continue until school starts in the fall.

In addition to the marches, Butler says the Three Kings of Peace have organized a weekday Crime Prevention Basketball League that operates Monday through Thursday evenings in Danville parks.