News Local/State

December 13 News, Brews & Beatz will focus on Champaign-Urbana youth programs


IPM News Director Reginald Hardwick, Karen Crawford Simms, Nathan Stevens and Tracy Parsons discuss combatting gun violence in Champaign at the November 15, 2021 News, Brews & Beatz event. Elizabeth Westfield/Illinois Public Media

Like communities across the country, Champaign-Urbana is dealing with a spike in gun violence. As of the week of December 6, Champaign-Urbana has seen 348 gun incidents and 23 homicides so far in 2021. In 2020, there were only had 266 gun incidents and 12 homicides.

Illinois public media is trying to help elevate conversations around solutions to this crisis. News, Brews and Beatz is a series of discussions co-hosted by Illinois Public Media News and Public Affairs Director Reginald Hardwick and Tracy Parsons, Community Relations Manager and Compliance Officer in the City of Champaign’s Office of Equity, Community and Human Rights. Hardwick previewed the December 13 event with Morning Edition host Brian Moline.

Moline: What is News, Brews, and Beatz?

Hardwick: Brian, we’re bringing people together to talk about ways to combat gun violence. We believe, calm, compassionate conversation and listening to each other may provide the answers to help spur action. We held our first program on November 15th. And we’ll hold a second program this coming, Monday, December 13th at 6 pm at Pour Bros. Taproom in Champaign.

Moline: Who will take part in the conversation?

Hardwick: I am honored to moderate along with Tracy Parsons, Community Relations Manager and Compliance Officer in the City of Champaign’s Office of Equity, Community and Human Rights. On Monday night, we’re going to talk with Rev. Willie Comer, Executive Director - Youth for Christ of East Central Illinois, who runs a midnight basketball program. and Dr. William Patterson, University of Illinois Associate professor in the College of Engineering who runs the Hip-Hop Express Double Dutch Boom Bus. The bus engages young people with stem, hip-hop music, and Black history. They’re going to share candid insights from what young people say they need to stop the violence on Monday night.

Moline: What did we learn from the first News, Brews and Beatz in November?

Hardwick: Last month, one of our panelists was Karen Crawford Simms. She is the founding director of Trauma and Resilience Initiative, Inc. Simms talked about how programs designed to help youth are woefully inadequate and not resourced well. Simms also talked about the role of trauma in the cycle of violence. And to understand why people who commit violence have either witnessed or been victimized early in life. Simms says the violence reflects a broken community.

Moline: Why is it at Pour Bros. Taproom in Champaign?

Hardwick: Pour Bros. Taproom was nice enough to sponsor the space. And we wanted to have a laid-back atmosphere while talking about these serious topics. So adults can come and have a beverage and listen to the conversation. Before we start, we have a spoken word performance from Missy Richland. And after the conversation, people can stay and listen to classic R&B and Hip-hop from DJ I-c-Dre. Hence, why we call it News, Brews, and Beatz. All attendees in person must wear their masks and I’ll be wearing mine until it's time for the conversation.

Moline: What about people who don’t want to attend in person?

Hardwick: You can also watch News, Brews, and Beatz on the Illinois Public Media Facebook page. Again all of this starts at 6 pm on Monday, December 13th.