UNITED FOR PEACE: Community leaders working to combat gun violence

Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 10:00 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 27, 2023 at 3:53 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - WEEK, WMBD and WTVP came together Thursday evening for a ‘United for Peace’ special in Peoria.

The goal was to grow community conversation and search for answers to gun violence that has killed too many people.

It was an hour-long special with three media groups, who came together to further the conversation on how to end gun violence in the River City. Six different panels of city leaders and resources shared what they’re doing to change lives for the better.

“We have to address those racial disparities if we are going to see even a reduction of gun violence and crime in our community,” said Mayor Rita Ali.

Mayor Ali says a report next month will zero in on those inequities. The city is now focusing on hotspots in the East Bluff and South Side neighborhoods.

“We have to equip or kids with conflict resolution skills, anger management abilities. We have to help them choose to not pull the trigger,” said Ali.

A main focus of the conversation was how young the victims and even suspects, have become. Also, how leaders can give them hope instead of a negative mindset.

Ken Godbolt is an author and works as a life coach with Peoria Community Against Violence (PCAV). He says people need to understand why kids are behaving this way, attributing past trauma that hampers mental health.

“They are looking for people to actually believe in them. Someone to be able to walk through their lives and walk through this process with them,” said Godbolt.

Peoria Police Chief Eric Echavarria says confidence in law enforcement has been a goal for his department. He’s led door to door conversations and anti-violence initiatives to prove it.

“I think we need for them to give us the opportunity to show trust that we’re here to work for them. That we’re here to build that trust,” said the chief.

Often noted was the need for a bigger conversation, leaders say parents should be having with their children.

“What we don’t teach them the street will and that’s important,” said Bernice Gordon-Young, a psychotherapist at the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office.

List of community resources:

George Washington Carver Center (309) 839-0722

MAY I Community Outreach

Dream Center Peoria (309) 676-3000

Peoria Police Department (309) 673-4521

Peoria County Sheriff’s Office (309) 697-8515