Unity March restores relationships in the C-U community

The CU Citizens for Peace and Justice held their seventh annual Unity March on Saturday in honor of the one-year anniversary of 15-year-old Kiwane Carrington’s death.

Carrington died last year in Champaign after an encounter with Champaign police. The officer’s gun allegedly went off during a scuffle after Carrington and his friends disobeyed police orders.

The march was centered around two main goals: to restore the relationships of the community and remember the life of Carrington. Community members and students made the march doing various chants such as “Honor Kiwane, respect ourselves,” before gathering at Randolph Street Community Garden to plant two trees.

Aaron Ammons was the main speaker at the march leading the crowd with a bullhorn in hand. He and sister Carol Ammons are both volunteers for CU Citizens for Peace and Justice and helped organize the march.

“We wanted to plant the trees to remember Kiwane, and we also wanted to put work into the garden, because you can’t have something without putting in the work to maintain it,” Aaron Ammons said.

Carol Ammons also said planting the tree was a very important symbolic action for the day.

“We planted the tree because it will bear fruit and that was the message to the community ­­— that we can do positive things together,” Carol Ammons said.

Aaron Ammons said his overall goals coming into the march were to see people come out and get involved in building the community.

Family, friends, students, community members and religious leaders were present to pay their respect to Carrington.

Two of Carrington’s cousins, Aaron and Amber McDaniel, participated in the march with custom made T-shirts in his honor.

“He’s loved by everybody. This helps bring me closer to accepting the fact that he’s gone, and we just love him and miss him,” Amber McDaniel said.

Both cousins said it was nice of the community to do this for their cousin and for people to express their feelings toward him.

“This not only affected the people in this community but people who have seen pictures of him around the street or read about him,” Aaron McDaniel said.

After the march and tree planting ceremony, the community gathered for a cookout with a chance to interact with one another.

Carol Ammons said she was very grateful for all the help and aid given by the community, such as a DJ that played during the cookout, the food donated and other help from various sponsors.

“The Unity March is like our New Year in the community. We set things for us to change and to make us a better community,” Carol Ammons said.

Carrington has had a large impact on the community, and his death was seen as an example and symbol for many young people in the future, Aaron Ammons said. He added that Carrington was “simply a good kid at the wrong place at the wrong time” and a victim of circumstance.

“Kiwane, unbeknownst to many, is a revolutionary seed. A seed of change people will use and grow from and as he grows, so will the people around him,” Aaron Ammons said.