Organizers strive to combat gun violence in the Champaign-Urbana community

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — With the rise in gun violence, community leaders in Champaign-Urbana are taking steps towards peace. Two events coincided today to help combat the gun violence in the community.

Organizers of both 48 Hours of Peace and 40 Days of Peace put together gatherings to unite people against gun violence in the community.

“We are here for them cause I think sometimes you get to be 16, 17, 18 you don’t think anyone is out here and we’re not listening but we are and you still have to help you know, no matter how old you are,” said Angelica Johnson, the director of Angel’s Youth Center. “We want to be there for you and be involved.”

As a part of 48 Hours of Peace, Angel’s Youth Center organized the Beat the Streets Teen Summit at Douglass Park Pavilion in Champaign to help teenagers learn to invest in themselves.

“It’s just really sad that the world has come to a place where we turn to guns instead of success so it’s imperative that we encourage the youth today to latch on to accomplishing their goals and dreams instead of turning to the streets and gun violence,” said Jackie Gwin, a youth volunteer.

HV Neighborhood Transformation also kicked off 40 Days of Peace and community building at Crystal Lake Park in Champaign.

Different black-owned businesses came to the block party.

Organizers say entrepreneurship can be a way out.

“Introduce them to something different,” said Maurice Hayes, the COO of HV Neighborhood Transformation. “And this is our way of giving back to the community and coming at it saying come on, come join us, let’s stand as a family and help save our kids.”

They say for this problem to be truly solved, the whole community needs to come together.

“If we all fight for the same thing, and we unite the forces that we have, we’ll do a better job in bringing some of the violence, the gun violence down in this community,” said Hayes.

More events are planned – there is a family fun kick off happening tomorrow at Arrowhead Lanes in Champaign from 5 to 7 p.m. It is sponsored by the Ministerial Alliance, which also helped with 48 Hours of Peace.

HV Neighborhood Transformation is also hosting another block party on July 3rd at 12 p.m. at Hessel Park in Champaign.

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