The death of four-year-old Jeremiah Ward Monday has taken a significant toll on the entire community.
Wednesday we got an inside look at what street violence does to our families.
One resident, Deon Comer-Jones, said she is a former female gang member and just last year, the father of her children died in Peoria from gun violence. After the death of Ward, she said enough is enough and now is taking matters into her own hands.
“We’re tired and we’re angry now and we want change and we cannot do that sitting at home,” said Comer-Jones.
Now Comer-Jones is hitting the streets.
“Shaking hands and shaking trees and letting the community know that we need to stand together, united. Peoria Police cannot do everything for us,” stated Comer-Jones.
She is encouraging Peoria residents to speak up if they know something.
“Just ordinary people getting together; not city officials, not someone else speaking for us. It’s our neighborhoods,” said Comer-Jones.
Comer-Jones wants safer neighborhoods for all kids, especially her own.
“I have two teenage boys and a teenage girl that I want to see prosper. I want to see them alive at twenty five,” she said.
Jessie McGown Jr. wants kids to prosper too, which is why he said he hits the streets at night, talking with kids and working with families in the home.
“Most of the conversations I’m getting are coming from people who are always blaming someone else. It’s the police officers fault. It’s the politicians fault. It’s everybody’s fault but theirs,” said McGown.
He is in the process of planning a forum, to discuss solutions, and is hoping to talk to parents face to face.
“We’re not raising our kids. We are letting our kids raise themselves and they are calling the shots. Stop making excuses and we need to start holding people accountable for themselves,” said McGown.
On June 26th, Comer-Jones is helping organize an anti-gun violence rally at Manual High School. All are welcome.
McGown said street outreach is important and he hopes the city and police department will help fund outreach programs.