CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — After an uptick of gun violence in Champaign County, city leaders and community activists are coming together to find solutions. There’s been a 113% increase in shooting incidents this year compared to the same time frame last year.
They say it’s not just a gun problem. Leaders say it’s a holistic issue that can be helped through community solidarity.
“Whatever the beef is, we can get through it,” said Willie Comer, the executive director for Youth for Christ. “But we can’t get through it with bullets flying.”
Gun violence has risen in Champaign, and people throughout the community are taking steps to combat the issue
“There is no beef in these streets that is worth losing your life or sending another person to the grave or to the system for,” said Angela Worthey of HV Neighborhood Transformation. “Please ya’ll. It is time for the death and the destruction to stop.”
At a press conference Friday night, leaders from HV Neighborhood Transformation and Youth for Christ spoke.
They highlighted the need for the community to step up and band together.
“We’ve become so detached from one another that we’re not serving as community,” said Comer. “We’re just individuals living in the same space.”
They say it’s not just about taking guns away. It’s about replacing it with social and economic support.
“Our approach is to be able to go and say, hey, if I take something, if I take a gun out of your hand, I have to, have something to put in it,” said William Brown, the co-founder of HV Neighborhood Transformation. “But that takes a community collective.”
For anti-gun violence activist Ayan Harris, accountability is important.
“We have to be able to say to our mayor, you need to do better,” said Harris. “We need to be able to say to our police chief, you need to do better.”
Harris, who’s graduating from Centennial this month, also wants other young adults to participate in the dialogue.
“It’s the 18 to 21 year old age gap that’s not being discussed, and it’s really, we can only really do so much,” said said. “It’s up to the city at this point.”
With HV Neighborhood Transformation, the organization has several programs, including Safe Haven, which provides mothers and families impacted by gun violence a safe space, bringing them from trauma to healing.