PEORIA, Ill., — Violence and death have left many hearts heavy within the central Illinois community.
Neighbors are looking to find a solution to the problem.
“There’s a violence problem and nobody knows the answer,” Peoria Music Live owner Kindall Nelson said. “I just knew the answer is love.”
Rather than dwelling in the past, some decided to take action to prevent violent acts in the future.
“When Jeremiah the 4-year-old was shot about 5 weeks ago everybody wanted to do something and nobody knew what to do and somebody said I just wish we could get everybody together to talk,” Nelson said.
Love Peoria Peace Rally gave several a chance to drown out hate and hurt with love.
“I feel like if peace, love and friendship are integrated more into our neighborhoods that would definitely begin the end to violence,” musician Cami Proctor said.
The community recognizes that putting an end to violence takes more than just a conversation and a hug.
“We have an epidemic in Peoria right now and the only thing that’s going to solve it is people choosing to do something differently and we’ve got to do it for us and our kids and future generations or it’s just going to continue to get worse,” Nelson said.
Neighbors say before making rash decisions recognize how valuable one life is.
“I think people [should] love instead of hurting and killing,” speaker Yolanda Wallace said. “We’re all going to die one day, but why prematurely end our life at a time when life could be so much more.”
This was the first peace rally, but Nelson says it won’t be the last. She hopes the event created a spark between neighbors and provided them with a new understanding in relation to recent violence.