by Delaney Appelhans
This past Sunday, a local activist group “Paign to Peace” hosted an event entitled “Protect Our Youth: A Conversation on Gun Violence” at Hessel Park in Champaign.
The event was held in response to recent gun violence throughout the community, as gun violence has increased in Champaign 53 percent since this time last year. Several speakers from around the Champaign-Urbana area attended the event to tell their stories to audience members, as well as encourage them to take action to prevent further gun violence. Speakers ranged from high school students to mothers who have lost their children to gun violence or the prison systems.
Two of the co-founders of Paign to Peace, Naomi DuPree and Alie Wimmer, explained that this rally was a further continuation of the actions they have already taken to call out social injustice in the community since last summer when the group was originally founded. The group organized several protests and rallies in the area last year in response to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
DuPree said that this rally was something that the group felt was necessary to address, as gun violence has become increasingly prevalent in Champaign throughout 2021.
“We can’t go a day without a shooting, or someone getting shot, whether it be the police or community wise, locally or nationwide, it happens every single day, almost every hour,” said DuPree, “The community needed a sense that something was being done about it, that conversations were being held, that their safety was being prioritized.”
In the future, Paign to Peace hopes to plan more events like this one to further engage the community in important conversations, especially as the weather gets nicer and more events can be socially distanced while outdoors.