CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)–In the wake of a recent wave in gun violence, one group of activists say they’ve had enough.
Organizers with I.Y.A.N. (Interconnected Youth Activist Network) in Champaign held a Black Lives Matter rally outside Beardsley Park on Saturday afternoon. They marched with dozens through local neighborhoods, calling for peace after roughly half a dozen shootings to hit the area in the last two weeks.
Organizers with the rally emphasized the importance of understanding trauma and mental health, especially for Black teens. The rally was also inspired by nationwide instances of police brutality, including the shootings of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago and Daunte Wright in Minneapolis.
Iyan Harris, the founder of I.Y.A.N., said they want to inspire youth to create positive change, and break cycles that negatively impact Black communities in town.
“We’re very enraged and sad with everything going on,” Harris said. “We don’t want to keep taking one step forward only to take five steps back.”
At the rally, organizers stressed the importance of racial and class solidarity, and called for members to give back to the community’s most vulnerable by donating to Hit-N-Homeboy’s community food pantry.