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PEORIA: 24 SHOT IN 2 WEEKS AS BLACK GANGS TERRORIZE THE CITY

 

http://www.pjstar.com/news/x2071996956/Wave-of-gun-violence-may-be-unprecedented-in-Peoria

A pair of shootings overnight Wednesday brought to two dozen the number of victims in the city in the last two weeks – a figure that elevates the amount of recent gun violence to a possibly unprecedented level.

The tally, compiled by the Journal Star and confirmed by the Peoria Police Department, includes the public suicide of Bernell Alexander last week in South Peoria, but not the slaying of his ex-wife in Creve Coeur just minutes before he took his own life.

The most recent victims included a man who was shot in the shoulder at 10:45 p.m. Wednesday in the 3400 block of Sunburst Lane in the Lexington Hills apartments and a man with a gunshot wound to the neck who was taken by private vehicle to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center at 3:13 a.m. Thursday. The second victim told police he was shot while he was a passenger in a vehicle driving through Harrison Homes.

The second shooting marked the 24th victim of gunfire since June 16, when a pair of afternoon shootings kicked off a 12-hour spree of violence that resulted in one fatality and five other people being wounded, including two children who were sleeping on the floor of their North Valley home.

Just a few days later, six people – all teens between the ages of 16 and 19 – were shot during two incidents less than a couple of hours apart.

Several days with multiple shootings and the city’s 15th and most recent homicide have since transpired, leading Lt. Vince Wieland of the Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division to label the period the worst in terms of local gun violence in decades.

“I haven’t seen two weeks like this in my 23 years,” Wieland said Thursday. “I can’t remember two weeks that have been this packed with such a number of violent acts.”

Compared to last year, however, the number of shootings so far this year does not appear to be abnormally high. Through June 22, the city had recorded 58 shootings, compared to 45 over the same time period last year.

“When we’re looking back to June 22, there isn’t that much of an increase, it’s just how it’s coming – it’s coming in bunches,” Wieland said. “It’s getting everyone’s attention because there’s been so many so quickly.”

Several of the shootings appear to be connected and gang-related, and the police have responded in part by temporarily reassigning an officer to a gang intelligence position that was cut at the beginning of the year to ease a $14.5 million citywide deficit.

Wieland called that position critical for investigations of shootings and a better way for the police to keep tabs on what’s happening on the streets. So far, the gang violence appears to have been generated by people and groups familiar to investigators, though some ground was lost when the gang intelligence position was vacant.

“We did lose some vital information that we were tracking,” Wieland said.

Though the recent spike in gun violence has caught the attention of authorities and onlookers for its unusual frequency, it remains, to a certain extent, part of a pattern that repeats every year.

Elaine Frye, executive director of emergency medical services at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, acknowledges the unusually large cluster of shootings in the last two weeks but also notes that more victims of violence tend to visit the level-one trauma center as temperatures rise.

“There is a seasonality to it – when the weather is nicer, more people are outside and roaming,” she said. “We see it every year. When the weather breaks, we see more stabbings, shootings and violence.”

The recent level of violence, she said, has not affected emergency operations at the hospital

Accounts show black males’ struggles, Monkey Madness Continues In Peoria

November 7, 2008 Leave a comment

http://www.pjstar.com/news/x2070801460/Accounts-show-black-males-struggles

PEORIA —

At a community meeting Thursday night to find strategies that would help improve the lives of African-American men, some raw stories of the plight of black males emerged.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who passed legislation last year creating the task force to address issues affecting the African-American community, might well have been stunned by some of these stories.

What would he have told the woman who asked for help for her son who was sent to jail at age 16 and is expected to be released soon at the age of 47.

“What am I going to do?” she asked. “What is he going to do? Who can I turn to for help?”

One man who described himself as an ex-convict got a college education while in prison but cannot find employment, despite his desire to change his life.

“What do you feel is needed in your community, in line with the bill,” asked Dana Travis of the Department of Corrections.

Along with Curtis Thompson of the Illinois Deprtment of Transportation and Lee Carter of the local Department of Health and Human Services, Travis led the meeting which sought to get the views of the community and any solutions they may offer. It was hosted by the Rev. Tony Pierce of Heavens View Christian Fellowship.

Senate Bill 776 established the first statewide task force on the Condition of African-American Men in Illinois. At a series of forums, the community is encouraged to speak about incarceration and parole rates, high school and post secondary education, economic earnings and health.

Several of the audience of about 40 people in Peoria on Thursday night said it was necessary to create jobs for youth.

“We’re not talking about college degree jobs,” said Agbara Bryson, who teaches at Illinois Central College. “We need jobs for individuals who are ex-offenders, whether it be in construction or something else; some training with GED that leads to employment.”

Generally, African-American youth need mentoring, because of the lack of male role models in their family, some said.

Apathy is another major setback for the African-American community, said Herschel Hannah, associate superintendent of District 150.

The word “fatherhood” also is a big issue and the community needs to find a way to help the black men find their way toward discharging the duties of that role, he said.

“Those of us who have had some success, we run as far away as we can from the ‘hood instead of going back and helping out,” Hannah said.

Racial profiling still is prevalent said one pastor who said he was stopped three times this year by police.

The task force is a step toward assisting men in the African-American community get better access to the state services available. But as some pointed out, although there are many resources in existence, not enough people are aware of them or know how to access them.

The task force has to report its findings to the governor and the General Assembly by Dec. 1