CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Gun violence may be going down in Champaign, but some community members say their fear has gone up.
It’s why the Equity and Engagement department has been hosting community violence response meetings. They hope to reach victory over violence.
A lot of people showed up on Monday night.
Not only was the group racially diverse, but it was also diverse in age and socioeconomic status which gave people across all walks of life the ability to understand how gun violence in the community has impacted them.
And what they think needs to be done to fix it.
“A young man was shot in the back,” said Michael Hill. “I really just felt like it’s right at my door.”
“They heard like a bullet wiz by them, and they actually dove on the ground,” said Joseph Wilson.
These are the stories two Champaign men shared at a community violence response meeting.
Michael Hill says a shooting happened 30 feet from his house.
Joseph Wilson says there were cars driving past his home shooting at each other.
“It’s very scary,” said Hill.
“It’s very frightening,” said Wilson.
But what’s scarier for them is doing nothing about it, which is why they attended the community meeting.
“When you involve community and people understand then people come together and I think it could be a solution people might come forward and be able to help out to find a solution,” said Hill.
Dozens of people showed up to do just that: Find a solution.
They shared ideas and talked about what they would like to see in their neighborhood. Some said more street lighting, and other wanted more police presence.
Champaign’s Chief Timothy Tyler attended and says he shares the same goals.
“Well because I care, it’s the main reason why I am here, not as a police officer but as a citizen,” said Chief Tyler.
Police statistics show shootings in Champaign have gone down 56% from Oct. 2021 to Oct. 2022, but that doesn’t mean the work is done to prevent gun violence.
“We have trauma we have counseling we have grief counseling we do wrap around services,” said Jorge Elvir.
When there is a heavy presence of gun violence in a neighborhood, the Equity and Engagement office make a point to be there for that neighborhood. They canvass the area to see how they can best support people and then bring them together to have round table discussion.
Both Wilson and Hill say they learned a lot from hearing from their neighbors.
“I’m just glad I’m here,” said Hill. “I hope I can attend other meetings like this.”
The Equity and Engagement office has a lot of resources such as counseling and youth development programs.