PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — “My soul is okay, but my heart is hurting, and it’s hurting for my city.”
Those are words from the former president of Peoria Community Against Violence (PCAV) Gloria Clark in reaction to the recent string of violence in the city of Peoria.
Multiple shootings and homicides have left multiple people wounded and two dead. The scene on the 800 block of South Helen Street Thursday morning was especially harrowing, with distressed citizens expressing anger and frustration by yelling and kicking their own vehicles.
Clark’s cousin was one of the two people shot on the 2100 block of West Antoinette Street, which also happened Thursday morning. Clark believes the solution to the problem needs to involve the entire Peoria community.
“I think we’ve got to come together, and we can’t just say ‘Oh it’s not in my community, that’s not in my neighborhood’ and ignore it, we’ve got to stop ignoring the problem and when I say we I mean me too,” she said.
Neighborhood House is a community organization based not too far from where the shooting took place on Antoinette Street. President and CEO Julie Bonar said the organization is a safe space for the youth they serve. She said one of the most important things they teach young people is conflict resolution.
“Sometimes they just need to learn a healthy way to express anger, frustration, and we provide them that safe place, where they can learn and grow and develop into individuals that can handle conflict in ways that are healthy and productive,” she said.
Clark believes every act of violence deprives the city of the optimism of a brighter future.
“We’re losing the strive to build, the strive to know that our city can be a safe environment for our children, we just got to get back that hope,” she said.