CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)–According to police in Champaign, shootings are up 53% from where they were at this time last year. Between January and April of 2021, police confirmed 52 shooting incidents in champaign alone.
There were only 28 shootings in that same time span last year. It’s inspired local activist group Paign to Peace to gather with community members at Hessel Park to discuss gun violence.
It featured a panel of speakers, community members who have been affected by gun violence, racism and other trauma. They talked about how retaliation keeps people stuck in increasingly deadly cycles of violence, and in turn, how that cycle does damage to the entire community.
Other speakers talked about the importance of investing in the community, and giving people from low income areas more opportunities to succeed. Eddie Pratt Jr., a member of the Champaign-Urbana Human Rights Coalition, said crime comes out of desperation. He said the current felony system can cause formerly incarcerated people to turn back to crime.
“You can’t get adequate housing, gainful employment, so what are you left with?” Pratt said. “There is no alternative.”
He also said any solution to local gun violence has to include new and positive alternatives to the community.
“If we don’t give alternatives, people will create one, and we’ve seen what that looks like.”