Champaign community continues to unite against gun violence

CHAMPAIGN—The Champaign community continues to come together after a series of shootings throughout the summer. On Sunday, local leaders and law enforcement urged residents to take back the streets from gun violence.

Pastor Willie Williams has lived in Champaign all his life, but this summer stands out for all the wrong reasons.

“The shootings that have been going on in the last month,” said Williams, the pastor at New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church. “It seemed like they kept coming one time, one after another.”

To end the trend, Pastor Williams reached out to local leaders and law enforcement to pull the trigger on stopping gun violence.

“Over a hundred rounds have flown throughout our community, a hundred, since I've taken office,” said Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb. “Only been here two and a half years.”

“It's not just a neighborhood problem,” said Williams. “But a community problem.”

So the community was invited to Douglass Park Sunday afternoon to find a solution. The answer they got was to connect with their kids.

“If we all come together, we can bring about something to bring about a unity in this community and get all our young folks together,” said 20-year-old Joseph Williams, a Champaign resident. “So they can come off the streets, so they can put down their guns.”

And sometimes that takes sharing information.

“Give us the opportunity to start, give us tangible evidence that we can build upon in order to hold some of these young people accountable for making poor choices,” said Cobb.

Because doing nothing won't stop the shootings.

“It seems like the city is getting worse and not better,” said Pastor Williams. “And I feel that if we as community leaders can make a stand, you know, we could save somebody.”

Williams hopes to make these community meetings a regular event so the children of the Champaign have a constant stream of support.
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