Community leaders ask for community’s support to end gun violence

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)–As shootings continue, community leaders say something has to be done.

“It’s time for moms, girlfriends, and brothers to stop protecting shooters. If you are harming the community, if you are perpetuating this violence, then we need to hold them accountable,” said Reverend Terrance Thomas with Bethel AME Church.

On Wednesday, shots were fired near Centennial High School in the middle of the school day. More than a dozen shell casings were recovered. Police say they’re looking for a possible suspect, and they are looking into the possibility of more people being involved.

“We have a heart issue. It’s not that kids are just bad. Kids are hardened. Their hearts are hardened, and they don’t even know how to necessarily receive the love that you’re trying to give,” said Willie Comer with Youth for Christ.

They say young people are not the only ones at the heart of the problem.

“It’s an all encompassing piece. I’ve experienced that we won’t talk about systemic issues and that we will focus on home life. If kids know how to pull their pants up, if people raise their families then we wouldn’t have violence. Well, maybe not true if I can’t eat, if I can’t sleep, if I’m making minimum wage,” said Reverend Thomas.

“I know this may seem cliche because I’m a pastor but really honestly I truly believe that if we are not a community that’s praying, we are going to miss it. We have tried everything else. We have got a thousand programs for kids. Parents are not signing them up,” said Comer.

They say it’s going to take a joint effort, but the crime must end.

“When the Community Coalition goes around and hosts the town hall, come out. When the police are trying to do different things and solve murders talk about it, when faith churches hold things talk about it,” said Rev. Thomas.

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