Champaign, Ill. (WCIA) —
“Champaign has experienced an uptick in violence,” Pastor Terrance L. Thomas with Bethel AME Church said.
That is causing activists to seek a solution. WCIA told you last week about a group planning on going door to door to speak about gun violence prevention and today a group of activists hit the streets in Champaign.
They are asking people to sign a petition to send to the governor. They’re goal is to get the governor to use money to help organizations trying to stop gun violence.
“We’re going from city to city and lifting up the need for the American Rescue Plan Dollars to be invested in gun violence prevention,” Reverend Ciera Bates-Chamberlain, Live Free Illinois executive director said.
Activists from all over the state came to Champaign. Their goal to have money invested to organizations that will help prevent gun violence.
“We’re calling for the governor to make that investment of 2% also into this issue. Champaign had its deadliest year in 2020, it happening across the state,” Bates-Chamberlain said.
Live Free Illinois went door to door.
“Make sure that those dollars are not only saving lives and helping govs to re-cooperate from Covid-19, but that we’re using those dollars to intervene in the violence that has increased in our cities,” Bates-Chamberlain said.
Urging people to sign their petition- that they plan to send to the governor.
“We’re organizing congregations, directly impacted individuals across the state to say gun violence must be invested in now,” Bates-Chamberlain said.
They hope with more money, gun prevention organizations can help slow down the violence and one Champaign congregation jumped on board.
“What we want to do is raise awareness. Hey, there’s this pot of money, we’re trying to get an allocation of that money,” Pastor Thomas said.
One pastor hopes he can help.
“The church is not just for Sunday worship and bible study, its to get involved and get active in these kind of projects,” Pastor Thomas said.
Besides going door to door for the petition, Pastor Thomas wants people to know that his church is a safe place for people to go.
“They can come and talk to us and we’ll work with them and we’ll walk with them. Even if the church can’t, even if I can’t, again, we’ll connect them to the appropriate people,” Pastor Thomas said.
The group went to several streets in Champaign. One man who signed the petition, who did not want to be on camera, said he signed because he is tired of waking up to gun shots.
Homicide rates increased by nearly 30% in 34 cities in the U.S. last year. That’s compared to the year before. Last year, Champaign had 189 shots fired incidents compared to 100 in 2019. Decatur had 169 shootings in 20-20, way up from 2019, when they reported 83.