“It’s just senseless;” City leaders call for community to address gun violence

Local News

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — After a violent weekend left three people dead in Champaign and Urbana, the cities’ mayors are calling for the community to help stop the cycle.

“There are people who are just begging for answers,” Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin said. “One of the biggest questions they have is who did it and why.”

Both Marlin and Champaign Mayor Deborah Feinen said they were scared innocent people could get hurt. Marlin pointed to the dozens of shell-casings found at the scene of a shooting on Friday as evidence that passersby and neighbors are at risk.

“I think the people who are involved in the gun violence aren’t understanding it’s their friends, their neighbors, it’s, you know, maybe even one of their family members who is going to end up being a victim,” Feinen.

With the ongoing pandemic, programs like CU Fresh Start have had to lean on virtual spaces in order to continue offering services.

“Unfortunately, that very important human touch of being in-person isn’t something that we can do,” Feinen said. “But we can continue to meet electronically.

“We do have a lot of programs, services, resources that have been offered time and time again to people,” Marlin said. “But what we need are families and friends to encourage individuals to take advantage of the help that’s offered.”

If you have any information regarding any of the weekend shootings, police ask you to contact Crime Stoppers at 217-373-TIPS, online at 373tips.com, or via the P3 Tips mobile app.

Tipsters are always 100% completely anonymous when contacting Crime Stoppers. All tips submitted to Crime Stoppers are removed of any personally-identifying information and.

Cash rewards of up to $1,000 are paid on tips received through Crime Stoppers for information leading to an arrest. Tipsters will never be asked their name and are given a secret code number to use when checking on a possible reward.

Last week, in response to the recent rise in gun violence, the Champaign Police Department also released the following list of resources and support networks:

  • Champaign County Community CoalitionMeeting on the second Wednesday of each month and open to the public, the Coalition is a collaborative initiative involving governmental partners, community organizations and members working together to address and solve the community’s most challenging social and economic issues – including gun violence. Each meeting includes a crime update from local law enforcement, and all residents are encouraged to join the discussion to learn more about community advancements, resources and the issues impacting our neighborhoods. 
    • Contact: Tracy Parsons, City of Champaign Community Relations Manager & Compliance Officer and Champaign County Community Coalition Facilitator.
    • Tracy.parsons@champaignil.gov
  • CU Trauma & Resilience Initiative (CU TRI): A product of the Community Coalition, CU TRI is a collaborative initiative to improve the community’s ability to respond to families who have been affected by trauma, and to educate the community about trauma-informed care and resiliency. Individuals experiencing a trauma and in need of immediate support can call the CU TRI emergency number at 217-673-7122.
    • Contact: Karen Simms, CU TRI
    • 217-403-8876 
  • CU Fresh Start: CU Fresh Start is a community-led focused approach to deter gun violence. Focused deterrence gives individuals with a history of involvement with gun-related activity a chance to put down the gun and move in a different direction. Referrals can be made to CU Fresh Start to help individuals find a new path forward. 
    • Contact: Hattie LeNoir-Price, Community Outreach Liaison
    • 217-402-2949
  • The Illegal Gun Bounty Reward Program: Offered through Champaign County Crime Stoppers, anyone who contacts Crime Stoppers with a tip that leads to the arrest of a person who used a gun during the commission of a felony crime in Champaign County will receive the maximum $1,000 cash reward. Tipsters remain completely anonymous when providing information to Crime Stoppers.
  • Register your Neighborhood: Organized neighborhood groups are essential to fostering community well-being throughout the City. Register your neighborhood or group with the City of Champaign’s Neighborhood Services Department to help get to know those around you and to take an active role in organizing and leading your neighborhood. Neighborhood groups are also encouraged to reach out and share with law enforcement the problems most directly affecting their neighborhood. 
  • Neighborhood Watch: Register through the City’s Neighborhood Watch Program. Neighborhood Watch is a great opportunity for communities to help in the fight against crime, as well as to bond through acts of service. Our neighborhoods are built on the strength of our citizens; and every day, situations arise that call upon residents to be the eyes and ears of law enforcement.
  • See Something, Say Something: The community is reminded to report all suspicious activity to the authorities. Crime prevention and arrests are often the result of alert citizens. By being alert and reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement, you can help protect your family, neighbors, and community.

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