FREEPORT, Ill. (WTVO) — The Freeport community is making a plea that teens put down their guns after a 16-year-old was killed in a shooting on Tuesday.
The rally on Wednesday was held in the city’s Third Ward, which organizers said is at the center of most of the violence.
Police have said multiple shootings between gangs have occurred in the city since Friday. Kiahna Clark was killed in a shooting in the 200 block of S. Cherry on Sunday, although Freeport Police Chief Matt Summers said that the victim was not involved.
“I do not believe she had an affiliation with the gangs, but I think it is important to note or say that with these two local gangs, if you are a boyfriend, a girlfriend or a family member, you are a target,” Summers said.
At Wednesday’s rally, resident Leon Ishmon said, “I have to take a stand against the things that I see. I want to be active, an active participant in my city, because we have generations behind me that have to live here.”
Walter Haywood, who also attended the rally, said, “We need to get back to that sense of community in Freeport. We can talk all day, but we need to come together. We need to come up with solutions of what we can do to try and prevent a lot of this.”
“Hopefully, people will hear us and will see us, and hopefully, maybe, by them actively seeing us, that will give them hope. Hopefully it will touch somebody’s heart enough to want to do something,” Ishmon said.
Residents said they’re not stopping their mission following the rally.
“If you see something going on, you have no problem with holding that kid accountable, or that adult accountable, and reaching out to their family. If we can do that and then top that off with job opportunities, different things these kids and young adults can be busy doing, something productive, I think that would make a big difference,” Hayward said.