Chief Cobb vows to take back the streets

Chief Cobb vows to take back the streets

CHAMPAIGN — Vowing to take control of the city's streets one night after a man was shot and killed near where children play, Chief Anthony Cobb said Champaign police are dealing with a dangerous new breed of gangs.

"These are not the gangs we were used to seeing in the '90s, where you had certain street gangs and a hierarchy. We don't have that here in Champaign," Cobb told The News-Gazette on Wednesday, blocks from where Allen M. Redding was shot multiple times after a car chase on Hedge Road.

"Now we have a hodgepodge of individuals working together. Sometimes they are friends today, but tomorrow they may be enemies. The dynamics are constantly changing, and drugs have a lot to do with it."

Police linked Tuesday's shooting to another less than 24 hours earlier, part of a dispute between two rival gangs. On Monday night, a man was shot in the leg while driving on West White Street.

Two incidents in two nights, following a similar script from the summer of 2013, left residents in the northwest Champaign community both frightened and frustrated.

"Enough is enough! Two summers of having these gangs going roughshod through our community is two summers too many," said Jamar Johnson, one of 116 people who gathered early Wednesday evening at the Jericho Missionary Baptist Church for what organizers called a Community Prayer for Peace Walk.

Champaign's police chief was among the group that walked seven blocks, gathered in a circle and said a prayer before heading back to the church, passing the spot on Hedge Road was shot a night earlier for the second time.

Cobb repeated a similar message Champaign police had during a two-week stretch in late May, when there were 15 reported incidents of shots fired.

"My message to the public is that we need to work together," Cobb told The News-Gazette. "There are a lot of people who are scared. But, even if you are scared, we still need for you to come forward. We need family members who know these individuals. We need to control our streets. The community needs to work together to resolve these issues.

"We are not going to tolerate this. Today's victim is tomorrow's suspect, and vice versa. My mom used to tell me bullets have no eyes, and there's been a lot of bullets that have been sprayed around our community."

Some of the walkers Wednesday sang hymns along the way; others held hands and shared hugs as they marched past the site of Tuesday's fatal shooting.

"Our effort tonight is to walk together," said Jericho Missionary Pastor Lekevie Johnson Sr. "We are praying against retaliation, and we are praying for peace."

"This endangerment of our young people really disturbs me," said church member Seon Williams. "If I could give a message to the gang members, it would be to start attending church and try to put more positive things in your life."

Said Sadie Smith, another walker: "What we need is for some of these gangbangers to find Jesus."

Champaign County NAACP President Patricia Avery said she was inspired to help organize Wednesday's walk as soon as she heard the news a night earlier.

"When I woke up this morning," she said, "it was as if God was telling me I've got to do something."

Avery called for both sides to lay down their guns and consider the consequences.

"If I was standing right in front of a gang member now, I would ask him if there is someone in his life that he loves," she said. "How would you feel if that person is no longer a part of your life? Every one of these young men have somebody who cares about them and that they care about."

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LocalTownie wrote on June 26, 2014 at 6:06 am

"Police linked Tuesday's shooting to another less than 24 hours earlier, part of a dispute between two rival gangs. On Monday night, a man was shot in the leg while driving on West White Street in the same Garden Hills neighborhood."

West White Street is NOT in Garden Hills, not even close. It's not fair to try to say that these incidents are only happening here. We're just the only neighborhood speaking out, asking the police department to find a solution to a problem that is spreading across a wide area in town. 


Mike Howie wrote on June 26, 2014 at 8:06 am
Profile Picture

Thanks for pointing out the error. It's been fixed.

Mike Howie

online editor

airrecon wrote on June 26, 2014 at 9:06 am

This town is not that big.  How does a geographical error like that get included in a reporter's piece?  It implies that all of this is going on in one location, when it is more widespread.  Jaded reporter generalization or freshman reporter stupid mistake? Regardless of whether or not it is currently corrected, the impression from the original piece is out there and won't be seen by the folks that have not or have had no reason to follow up. Shoddy journalism.

Chambanacitizen wrote on June 26, 2014 at 9:06 am

How about less "vowing" and more doing? I used to live near Beardsley/State..a terrible part of town. I saw with my own eyes a shooting in the summer of 09. It got so bad, police did foot patrols for the rest of the summer. It helped. Please, Chief Cobb, more foot/bike patrols. Everyone can see cop cars coming a mile away. Bikes/foot...not so much. Thanks for your work to this point, but it is getting out of hand.  Perhaps instead of "praying for peace"...we need a group of citizens who would take action?

map89 wrote on June 26, 2014 at 3:06 pm

It is very nice that this community is once again out walking for peace, but this is too little, too late.  Where were the parents/community when these yahoos were being raised?  There is more to being a parent and parenting a child than just deciding you want a cute little baby and not even considering whether you have the ability/wherewithall or means to raise this child (and welfare does not count - that is taxpayers taking care of you and your children).  Persons in this community are apparently skipping some vital steps in the process and the result becomes these feral individuals wreaking havoc throughout C-U.  This community needs to work on making sure their young people wait until they are emotionally and financially stable enough to properly parent a child.  This would include making sure these young men are raised with a sense of accountability, responsibility, respect for others, strong work ethic; in other words, the values that society in general uphold and try to live by.  We also need to stop allowing these individuals to plea to a lesser charge. We need to get tough with this behavior and make sure these offenders are prosecuted to the max.  Zero tolerance and mandatory prison time - so they know if they go on a shooting spree in C-U, they will do the time.  Start raising your kids and stop blaming your shortcomings/problems on the "village";become involved in their lives, know where they are, who their friends are, how they are doing in school, etc.  Parent your children so they don't become society's problem.  We are tired of dealing with your shortcomings. 

rsp wrote on June 26, 2014 at 8:06 pm

This is the product of three strikes. This is the product of get tough on crime. This is what happens when kids grow up without their parents who are doing time for a minor offense that has a long sentence to show you that some politician is tough on crime. Keep yelling that you want them to not plea bargain where maybe they can learn better ways and take care of their kids. You only hear of a few cases and you think you know everything that goes on at the court house.

just_wondering wrote on June 26, 2014 at 9:06 pm

You can't be serious. Champaign County is renowned for NOT being tough on crime and giving multiple chances for offenses - minor or serious. 

Cornet wrote on July 01, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Good parenting went bye-bye with the simultaneous loss of family structure and the creation of DCFS.

chambana00 wrote on July 01, 2014 at 10:07 am

Well I'll just keep it simple. Champaign would see a decrease in voilence if they focused on the more serious crimes that occur in stead of having a main focus of arresting people for petty offenses.

Cornet wrote on July 01, 2014 at 6:07 pm

The police chief tried to be more proactive and a part of the public eye. We got rid of him and hired Cobb. When Cobb stops trying to take the "affirmative action towards enforcement" route and the judges of the county AND prosecutors quit cutting idiotic deals, will the streets be safer. Let's paint a picture. I'm a thug living in the south side of Chicago. I hear that judges down here typically hand out probation rather than jail time. Chicago learned that lesson of being "easy" over a century ago. Do I stay in Chicago or do I bring "my thang" down here??  Unless of course you're a nurse who had a one time aggravated DUI charge in which case you lose your J O B and sit in prison for 5 years! But if your habitual??? Two years probation and anger management classes and we the judges of champaign county set you free and along your way!

that is unless of course, we are trying to sink ourselves to be at he same crime rates as our brethren, Danville, Decatur, and Bloomington.