CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — More than two dozen people were arrested in Champaign over the weekend, most of them for burglary as large groups looted stores.
Mt. Calvary Baptist Church Pastor Lekevie Johnson was at Market Place Mall when things started. He and other pastors were trying to keep the peace.
“It’s important for us as a unit to try and see how we navigate to assist to maintaining public safety,” says Johnson.
On Prospect Ave., Kaneshia King pulled up to Target when she saw looting taking place in the area. So she and others stood in front of Target’s doors and started preaching gospel.
“I was a little nervous at first and I prayed within myself and I stood up there in front of the doors and said, ‘This is not the way to get your point across,'” says King.
Both King and Johnson tried in their own way to stop protests from losing focus, and they were both disappointed to see things escalate.
“The initial reaction is frustration because there’s a better way to do it, there are better routes,” says Johnson.
“My heart really hurts, because there’s a way to be peaceful and still be heard,” says King. “There’s a way to get your point across and speak how you feel. It’s now what you do, it’s how you do it.”
Johnson says he knew some of the kids who showed up at the mall and he was able to get them out of there. Now he and the other pastors want to keep sparking conversation about change.
“I think that is the most important piece,” says Johnson. “The fact that some of the looting and criminal activities happened, that takes away from the most important narrative and that is some of the unjust treatment of black people in America.”