Kankakee First Ward Alderwoman Cherry Malone-Marshall remembers a shooting that occurred at a neighborhood store in her ward last summer. Two of her grandchildren were in the area when the shooting occurred.
“You just worry that this is happening. It could happen to someone you know,” Malone-Marshall said during a gathering Wednesday at King Middle School to address continued gun violence in Kankakee.
“Then I woke up Saturday morning and learned not one person, not two, not three, not four but five people were shot in a house two blocks from where I live.”
Two days later, a mother and two of her four children were shot as they exited their car in the 200 block of West Chestnut Street.
In response to the recent shootings, a press conference was held Wednesday evening. It was hosted by community activist Travis Miller and J.J. Hollis, a commissioner for the Kankakee Valley Park District and a Republican primary candidate for Kankakee mayor.
The press conference was held just two hours after Fyance D. Dawson, 30, of Kankakee, first appeared in court after his arrest on charges in the shooting of the mother and children.
About 50 people attended, including Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong, Marshall and six Kankakee City Council members. Among them was Sixth Ward Alderman Chris Curtis, who is also running on the GOP primary ticket for Kankakee mayor.
Wells-Armstrong said unity is needed to take on gun violence.
“We lost the whole concept of living as a village,” she said, recalling one of her parents’ neighbors who kept her and the other neighborhood kids in line.
Seventh Ward Alderman Carl Brown said it is time people start talking.
“There needs to be accountability,” he said.
First Ward Alderman Michael Prude agreed, saying, “We need to know what is going on.”
Kankakee Deputy Police Chief Willie Hunt said the gun violence needs to stop.
“The bullets being shot have no names on them,” he said. “They can come through your windows next. Someone knows something. If you have something, tell someone.”
Hollis said he is tired of meeting at these gatherings that have addressed the gun violence in the community.
“Enough is enough,” he said. “We have to get to the root of the problem, the people doing this. We are through playing around. If this continues, there is a place for you.”
Kankakee School District Superintendent Genevra Walters recalled her father being shot as he closed his business in 1969. Within 24 hours, someone had been arrested due to people coming forward.
Walters was disappointed in the low turnout to Wednesday’s event, saying this is a problem the community should solve together.
“Margaret Mead said, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; it’s the only thing that ever has,’” Walters said.
She spoke to those gathered about breaking generational cycles and counseling for children involved in gun violence
Miller said it is time to rid the city of the stain of shootings.
“We have come too far,” he said.