CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — Several city leaders joined the peaceful protest in Champaign-Urbana, including the mayors and police chiefs of both cities.
“People have the right to protest,” said Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb. “They have that first amendment right.” Cobb took part in that, walking alongside hundreds of protestors through the streets of Urbana. “Their voices do matter. That’s why I was here. That’s what it symbolized for me taking a knee, showing that I’m willing to take time. I’m willing to take a knee and I want to hear you.” From beginning to end, he chanted in support, kneeled in solidarity and stood up for the Black Lives Matter cause.
This peaceful protest was a stark contrast to the violence that happened the night before. “We don’t want to experience that again. The looting, the riots we saw, the unrest. Our community does not want that.” Cobb said, he along with other city leaders want to show they care, and are willing to work to make the community stronger. “We’re not perfect. Our system is not perfect. We get it. We know that this is our next generation, as we look at this crowd that just left here. It was a bunch of young people. They’re passionate and they want to see some changes. We want to hear whatever those changes are.”
When asked what she looked forward to in light of what has happened in the past two days, Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen said,” It’s clear that we need to have a local conversation about national issues.” She continued to say they “continue to strive to be better here in our community.”
Cobb said he wants to reassure people that they are working to progress a higher standard when it comes to the officers in his police department. “We’ve been working hard for years now through unconditional respect and we want to always see the worth of all citizens. I want to treat anyone as if they were my child. I want to treat them as if they were my mom.”