URBANA, Ill. (WCIA)– Back in 2009, a Champaign Police officer accidentally shot a 15 year old. Community leaders held a meeting to search for answers. A few years after that, those leaders formed the Champaign Community Coalition, a group determined to make change. “You see a mom who has lost her child or a family member after a shooting incident it just really rips you apart,” said Tracy Parsons, Community Relations Manager for the City of Champaign and long time Champaign Coalition member. “You feel for their family. You feel for the victim’s family,” said Lauren Smith.
Emotions Tracy Parsons says stuck with him and called him to action. “We’ve got to solve this. We’ve got to stop this,” said Parsons. Now Parsons and dozens of other coalition members fight for that. “Challenges that are faced in many of the neighborhoods where the youth are growing up,” said Parsons, “The appearance that our shooters are becoming younger and younger.”
Two teens, ages 14 and 15, were shot and killed in the last year. Champaign County has seen at least 90 shootings this year. That is a number Parsons says is up from last year. Now, concerned neighbors are taking their frustrations and meeting up for change. The coalition encourages others to join their efforts, attend meetings, and together find ways to combat violence.