PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Developing a model to combat community violence, Cure Violence Global is an organization that was shut down at Peoria City Council on Tuesday, May 24.
“It shows me that there are several council people that really don’t care what happens, or doesn’t care about the violence that’s happening in our communities… To vote no on that assessment is really a slap in the face, and it really shows us, the community, the black community specifically, how they really feel,” said Pastor and President of the Peoria NAACP Marvin Hightower.
In a five to five vote, council members John Kelly, Kiran Velpula, Zachary Oyler, Chuck Grayeb, and Sid Ruckriegel all voted no, but council members Andre Allen and Denise Jackson were particularly vocal about the topic.
“Cure Violence has the lens that we need right now, and that’s why you have to bring third-party people to let you know your house is dirty and that can tell you the real. That’s the beauty of bringing in a consultant,” said Allen.
The $25,000, taken from American Rescue Plan money, would have allowed an initial assessment for the purpose of determining whether the implementation of Cure Violence was right for Peoria.
“I think sometimes we have to realize that we’re not going to always have the entire picture. It’s good to ask questions, but we have to make sure we’re making progress at the end of the day,” said Allen.
Pastor Hightower said the community can’t police its way out of every situation and that the community needs to be involved.
“I’m not saying Cure Violence is the end all be all, this is a multi-faceted issue, a multi-faceted problem, that needs to be addressed in a multi-faceted way,” said Hightower.
The council members who voted no argued that the officers should already be dealing with violence in the community, and there is no reason to bring in an outside organization.
Allen said, however, that the police need a little extra help sometimes. “The goose can only produce so many golden eggs before the goose is cooked. And, so, at some point, you have to bring in external people to come in, who have a lens for this, as well. That was one of the things I was most excited about with this mission.”
Even without passing the assessment, Councilman Allen said he is confident there will be other opportunities to curb violence.
“There will be some type of program that will be implemented because these are crucial times that we’re living in, and we can not afford for another moment to go past, we need to have a plan in place, and we need to start taking action immediately,” said Allen.
Ultimately, Hightower said the community has a say in how Peoria combats violence, “They are elected officials, our votes matter. They will only be in office as long as they are voted in office.”
WMBD reached out to the council members who voted no on the assessment but did not hear anything back.