CU Fresh Start to give update at Thursday forum in Campustown

CU Fresh Start to give update at Thursday forum in Campustown

CHAMPAIGN — An update on the CU Fresh Start program to curb gun violence will be provided at a forum this week.

The forum will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the McKinley Presbyterian Church & Foundation at the corner of Fifth and John streets in Campustown. It will include a panel presentation followed by a Q&A with the audience.

Key figures behind the program will be part of the panel — Champaign police Chief Anthony Cobb, Fresh Start project specialist Vivian Gray and Fresh Start community liaison Donte Lotts.

When it launched last fall, Fresh Start was focused on "call-in" interventions for those who met Champaign police criteria indicating they were susceptible to gun violence. If they agreed to completely reject gun violence, they would receive community resources for rebuilding their lives.

After two call-ins, Gray readjusted the program's focus to include research that will create a working hypothesis on the cause of Champaign-Urbana's particular brand of gun violence.

The project took on two University of Illinois Ph.D. graduates, Julian Williams and Rafiqah Mustafaa, who spent the summer conducting a door-to-door, confidential survey in neighborhoods affected by gun violence. That work was completed Aug. 12.

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