C-U Citizens for Peace and Justice honors Kiwane Carrington, victims of violence

About fifty people including University students and faculty, area high school students taken out of school, and community members congregated outside of the Champaign County courthouse Monday afternoon to express anger and honor victims of violence.

Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice held the rally to honor not only Kiwane Carrington, the 15-year old who was shot by Champaign police officer Daniel Norbits last month, but all victims of violence nationwide as well as in this community.

The event was part of the National Day of Outrage, which is organized by Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network. The rally at the courthouse was one of about 20 demonstrations across the nation.

Carol Ammons, speaker at the event and volunteer for C-U Citizens for Peace and Justice, said that the community is suffering after the death of Carrington and the group wants people to question how this happened.

Several religious leaders, including Rev. Evelyn Underwood, president of the Ministerial Alliance, offered prayers in honor of Carrington and other casualties of violence.

“Today I am here in sympathy as a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother,” Underwood said.

There were also two speakers from the University. The first was Ray Muhammad, professor of African American studies and member of the Nation of Islam.

“The fact that Kiwane’s life was taken and there is not a larger crowd here, that is an act of violence,” Muhammad said. “These children are continually taught that they are less valuable than they are; that’s the first act of violence.”

Muhammad said he believed they should fault the system and not the community.

“It’s a misplacement of values, we need to regard children as our most valuable resource,” Muhammad said.

Lou Turner, academic advisor in African-American studies, spoke about the need to increase police accountability.

“Members of the black community are often victims of democracy and not recipients of it,” Turner said. “We need to look into a civil rights lawsuit against Champaign.”

Turner said he conducted a study which looked at the Los Angeles police department training manual and found it actually contained counter-insurgency training. He questioned whether the Champaign police training manual might be similar.

“If this is the lens through which the police are looking at the black community there will be more of these shootings,” Turner said.

Ammons said the community is using this day of anger as a way to create social justice.

“There are many actions being argued by various groups,” Ammons said. “We’re starting with recognizing the social issues and create continuous movement for change.”

Ammons offered her condolences to the family of Kiwane Carrington and offered libation to his memory and those of others taken by violence.

“It’s a way to honor those who have been lost,” Ammons said.