DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) – “That’s the only thing that’s going to draw us closer is love,” Shemuel Sanders said.
Love is what brought this group together outside the Decatur Police Department Wednesday evening.
“Us joining here together tonight is just one way of showing police officers who put their lives on the line every day how much they’re appreciated, how much they’re loved,” one woman said.
They’re all hurting after hearing the news that two officers were shot during a traffic stop early Wednesday morning. The suspect was killed.
“It’s really a numb feeling, it’s a hurtful feeling,” Sanders said.
Three families were impacted directly. But the shockwave was felt across Macon County, especially among other officers, who’ve all been afraid of this.
“I was an auxiliary officer with Decatur police for 11 years, so I know a lot of these people, and I know their families,” Starla Street said.
That’s why she helped gather people to pray. Pray for the officers’ recoveries, for their loved ones, and for the community to find peace.
“We wanted to show our support for law enforcement and show our support for DPD families and all families involved,” she said.
The group also prayed for healing in every neighborhood, and a better future for Decatur.
“We must stand together to make sure that something like this won’t happen again,” Sanders said.
He, and other leaders of the vigil, say they need unity.
“This tragedy – I don’t want it to separate the community and the police officers,” he said.
He says Decatur is strong. And if there’s strength in numbers, they’ll get through it.
“I’m really impressed about the turnout today, the diversity of people that’s here, and I believe if we can continue in this, we’ll see a difference in our city,” Stop the Violence Project coordinator Jessie Bates said.
Bates has been working on the project for 20 years. He said it’s going to take everyone uniting, like they did Wednesday, to end shootings.