Champaign community comes together after a series of shootings
CHAMPAIGN—A community comes together after two shootings in two days leave one man hurt, and another dead. Residents of Champaign’s Garden Hills neighborhood took to the streets Wednesday to cry out for peace.
As the owner of a funeral home on Champaign’s north side, Seon Williams has seen too many lives lost to violence.
“Brokenness, broken families, hurt,” said Williams. “And it just rips families up when young people are snatched, their lives are snatched early on. And they can be anything, and so we got to let them know they can be anything.”
So when Williams heard a life had been snatched in the Garden Hills neighborhood during a shooting Tuesday evening, he reached out to local leaders and organized a walk for peace through a traumatized community.
“After we started getting the word out, it just seemed like everybody started to get on board,” said Williams. “Because everybody sees the awareness and what could possibly happen in the future with our summer if we did not address it now.”
“Last year we had unfortunate shootings right off the top of the summer and then we had tips to the police and boom, rounded them up within a week,” said Champaign mayor, Don Gerard. “So we're hoping we can get the same kind of response here. It's difficult when we have suspected gang activity, a lot of community members don't feel safe, they feel as though they are being held hostage.”
A feeling residents on Hedge Road now know too well.
“My kids can't even head out today, and they're out of school,” said Willia Biggers, a Champaign resident who lives across the street from the scene of Tuesday’s shooting. “But they got to stay in the house because I’m afraid.”
Bamt seeing the stream of people walk down her street hand in hand gives Biggers hope.
“The world is so full of ‘I don't want to get involved, I don't have time,’” said Biggers. “But things like this make you make time. Because those bullets and guns don't have no eyes or no names on them.”
“I think we can let people know it's not tolerated,” said Williams. “So we're out here letting people know it's not right.”