Don Carter Lanes survivor joins call to fund gun violence prevention program in Rockford

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — After five shootings that took place in Rockford within 24 hours, a group of activists and faith leaders say enough is enough.

The victim of a local tragedy tells us he doesn’t want others to experience what he went through.

“$3 million out of $54 million to help save lives? If that’s not something that you’re willing to do, I question whether you care about the black community,” said Willette Benford, of Live Free Rockford.

A total of $54 million is coming to the Forest City, courtesy of the American Rescue Plan. Friday afternoon, leaders with Live Free Rockford asked local leaders to earmark $3 million of that for the creation of a dedicated violence prevention office in the city.

“Just think about gun violence dropping. People won’t move out of communities because of the violence, they’ll begin to invest in those communities, because they’re not afraid that bullets will be whizzing by their head,” Benford said.

Group members believe the $3 million would keep programs running for two years.

“Services such as street outreach, hospital-based violence intervention, mental health, and trauma services, employment services,” said Ciera Bates Chamberlain. “This should be a part of Rockford’s budget every year, investing into this office.”

One community member who urged local leaders to consider the move is Printess Wynn. The teenager survived after being shot in the face when a gunman opened fire at Don Carter Lanes last December.

“I don’t think as a mother, you should have to talk to your children about ‘if someone gets to shooting in a place, run, to get out.’ And that’s the type of conversations I had with my son before he left home,” said Printess’ mother Diane Wynn.

“Black children shouldn’t worry about getting shot at a young age,” said Printess. “We’re just trying to live life and grow up like everybody else.”

We reached out to the city to see if they would consider providing funds but have not heard back. Click here to learn more about the group.

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