Community members respond to violence


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — “Its important that people have a respect for life,” Abdul Hakeem Salaam, member of First Followers, said.

That’s what people are saying after a man was killed early this morning and now members of the community are looking for solutions to end the violence. 42-year-old Charles Evans was shot and killed in Champaign early this morning. It happened on West White Street near Elm Street.

Police found the Urbana man in an alleyway. They said Evans was in an apartment when a fight may have broken out. No arrests have been made but police are encouraging people to send in any information they may have.

Champaign Police said 12 homicides have happened so far this year. 11 have been by gunfire and just last week a teenager was killed. Now, community members are not only grieving, they also want action.

“We wanted to make sure that we provided a space for people to come and as always find out about the trauma resources that we have available,” Mary Catherine Roberson, Champaign County Community Coalition, said.

A community violence response meeting was held for people to express their thoughts on recent violence.

“We recognize that’s an important part of the process too, is just people being able to come out and talk and share and really receive support from other community members,” Roberson said.

The Champaign County Community Coalition Community Violence response team put on the event. They said after a teenager was killed last week. They received dozens of calls.

“The only way to move through this issue is going to be to move through it together,” Roberson said. “We have to have collaboration, I’ve said it before, and will keep saying it from city hall to the community and law enforcement and all across the board.”

The meeting brought people into small groups. People from the community were able to express their concerns, share their ideas, and more.

“I think from all of this we begin to have strategies to address this,” Salaam said.

The meeting also provides people with resources for anything you might need for help and Mary Catherine Roberson, the event organizer, says she has noticed more people asking for help.

“We want the violence to stop and so if that is your aim and you feel like you want to be apart of this conversation and be apart of this solution, join us,” Roberson said.

“A lot of people are saying, beginning to say look, it seems as though its getting a lot worse before its getting better,” Salaam said.

While it doesn’t seem like violence is slowing down, organizers are continuing to try and help.

“We are committed to keep showing up in neighborhoods where it happens,” Roberson said. “We won’t back down from showing up whether its neighborhood safety forums, whether its canvasing.”

The City of Champaign and the Community Coalition hosted many events like this throughout the summer. They’ve also been going door to door in neighborhoods speaking to people about their thoughts and offer resources to help.

For more information on the Community Coalition check out the link below.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.