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On Monday, November 23, 2009, Urbana-Champaign participated in a “National Day of Outrage” held by Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network to call attention to the national epidemic of violence in urban communities. Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice organized a rally to take place on the same time as events in more than 20 other cities across the country.
The rally, which took place at the Champaign County courthouse, was specifically to address the police killing of Kiwane on October 9, 2009. The report by the state police is currently in the hands of State’s Attorney Julia Rietz who is expected to release her decision on whether to prosecute the police involved any day now.
At the rally Monday, a diverse crowd of approximately 50 people gathered to hear several speakers. Members of the religious community, both Christians and Muslims, led the group in prayers. Durl Kruse read a statement from CU Citizens for Peace and Justice. One youth recited a rap he had written for Kiwane. Seon Williams of the Whip barbershop addressed the audience. Lou Turner, from the Department of African American Studies, spoke about the 40th anniversary of Black Studies and the need to reconnect with community activism. He announced the formation of “Ubuntu,” a working group for local scholar-activists which will meet December 10, 2009 at 7pm at 1201 W. Nevada St.
Statement from CUCPJ:
Champaign Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice welcomes you to this very notable community rally.
“Stop the violence and be your brother’s keeper” is the message being spoken by Al Sharpton organizer of the “National Day of Outrage.” Events just like this are occurring across the United States. It is time to end the silence and stop all the senseless violence in our communities. That is why we rally in front of the courthouse this afternoon. To end the violence. To save our children. To save our communities.
Champaign Urbana is no different from any other community in our country. This community has its share of serious problems too. Recent News-Gazette headlines have focused on education, the homeless, increasing hunger, skyrocketing unemployment, police conduct, and local crime. Champaign Urbana is not immune to violence.
As violence in all its forms grow, a community is threatened. Al Sharpton warns: “every stray bullet comes closer to you or the one you love.”
Just last month, 15 year old Kiwane Carrington and his friend were involved in an incident with the Champaign police. Neither was armed or in the act of committing a crime, yet Kiwane was shot dead and the other youth has been charged with aggravated resisting arrest. The community was shocked and many outraged. The community is still waiting for an answer.
On this National Day of Outrage, CUCPJ along with citizens and community groups across the country declare that all forms of violence must end. All forms of violence including police abuse and intimidation. It all must end.
Champaign Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice call upon the community and especially its leaders to acknowledge and respond to the sources that create violence as well as the inequities and injustices within the system that often provoke and sustain violence. These inequities and injustices must be addressed and corrected for real change to occur.
Therefore CUCPJ supports and calls for the following:
-that police abuse and use of deadly force incidents be independently investigated.
-that excessively disproportionate charging of minority youth by the state attorney’s office end.
-that the charges against the second youth involved be dropped.
-that police profiling be confronted and eliminated.
-that our youth be educated about their civil rights and the rules governing interaction with the police.
-that elected officials not just listen but actually respond to the concerns and needs raised by the minority community.
Yes, we have a right to be Outraged! But outrage alone is not enough.
Citizens must also act! They must continue to raise their voices until they are heard.
You can bet our elected officials are Listening.
Together we will End the Violence.
No More Stolen Lives!