Peoria residents discuss solutions for violence in Peoria's south side

By WEEK Reporter

October 24, 2013 Updated Oct 25, 2013 at 10:32 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- A standing room only crowd filled a local church Thursday night, in search of solutions to the violent problems plaguing Peoria's south side.

The light at the end of the tunnel of violence is difficult to see now, but together these community members vow to reach it.

They say ways to get there include education, respect, and getting to know neighbors.

"The most important is love. Everything else is fruitless. If you don't have love and you're not meeting the need with compassion and you're not standing up and meeting that child in that area, they don't care what you're talking about," said Marc Smith of New Beginnings Worship Center.

First District Peoria City Councilwoman Denise Moore organized the Stop the Violence town hall meeting.

Her call to action is simple.Get involved with an organization to encourage young people to stay off the streets.

Numerous groups spoke about programs that need volunteers and mentors, but Moore said decreasing crime goes beyond just the individual.

"I kept hearing over and over it's the family we have to preserve, the family unit. We have to make sure that people understand that there are people out in the community that are willing to help you if you're a single mom and you have to work two jobs and no one is there to watch your children," Moore said.

Adults in the room became familiar with Carl Cannon's signature youth program ELITE.

Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard said he is encouraged this movement will make a difference.

"You can go to the toughest neighborhood in Peoria with the highest crime rates and the good people far, far outweigh those that are causing trouble. You just have to mobilize," Settingsgaard said.

Moore said she hopes to have these action-based town hall meetings once a quarter.

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