First peace summit aimed to start change in Decatur

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DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) – Wednesday was the first of four peace summits people in Decatur have planned.
The theme was “What’s going on,” and the goal was to focus on police and community relations.

Dozens of people came out Wednesday. Including representatives from the Macon County Sheriff’s Office, Decatur Police Department, Millikin University, Decatur Public Schools and more.

“I’m hoping that it leads to more change in a positive way,” Dejuan Sparkman, a panelist for the peace summit, said.

A keynote speaker came to talk about how violence is up in Decatur, and how the pandemic impacted that. Plus, how people in the community and police can help bring that back down, and help each other.

This peace summit was a branch off a meeting they had over the summer. When people came together to talk about problems they saw in the city and county and how they could address them.

“Working here in this community, you know for 15-20 years, people have said the same thing, and even longer. So, we want to try to find a way to bridge this gap somehow, someway. There are new issues that have become more prevalent in the community, and we want to address those with the communities voice,” Keyria Rodgers, the Director of Criminal Justice at Millikin University, said.

“If we all can’t come to the table and try to come up with solutions, we’ll never get those problems solved.” Dr. Evyonne Hawkins, re-entry program facilitator for S.I.M.P inc., said.

They hope the conversations inside the meetings make their way into the community, and some real change can start.

Each peace summit has its own theme and goal.

The next one is February 2nd, and it’s titled “A deeper dive.” That will focus on community support groups in Decatur.

On May 4th, the theme is “Where are we now.” That goal is to talk about young people in the community.

The last planned event is August 3rd, and is a community-wide restorative justice meeting.

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