East St. Louis trying to improve image plagued by violence

EAST ST. LOUIS, IL (KTVI) – East St. Louis is trying to improve its image as a community plagued with violence. From January 25th to March 5th, the city is trying to accomplish 40 days of non-violence with various events and activities.

On Monday afternoon, city leaders and sponsors met at City Hall to discuss the program, along with a major lead in the city’s first homicide of the year.  But unfortunately during this presentation, the violence continued. Just after four o’clock, a man was shot on 18th and State Street.  Police were nearby and caught the suspect.  Meanwhile, the victim was rushed to the hospital, thankfully expected to live.

The outcome could have been worse, but the timing of this shooting is ironic, considering the city’s latest mission.  Still, East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Floore says it only makes their call of duty even greater. He explains, “We still got children in our city that need to be guided and need help. And we don’t want to penalize everybody because of one incident, you know what I mean?”

Further down State Street at 71st Street, the St. Clair County Mobile Command Center was filled with investigators tirelessly working to solve a homicide from Saturday.  Nineteen year-old Derundarae Smith was shot in the back, in a field just across the street.  Law enforcement’s current task: trying to find a person of interest, 22 year-old Kenneth Walton of East St. Louis.

As police continue work to solve the fatal shooting, city leaders hope the emphasis can remain on preventing violence altogether; hoping that the remaining 30 days of this program truly are non-violent.

40 Days of Non-Violence Coordinator Joe Lewis Jr. says, “That’s another reason that we’re uniting: to focus on the positive way more so than any of the negative.”

“You just can’t give up. We’ve got to keep trying,” adds the police chief.

The 40 Days of Non-Violence is being held throughout the month of February to encompass Black History Month and Valentine’s Day, promoting a peaceful and loving environment.

For a list of upcoming events associated with this program, visit
http://40daysofnonviolence.com/4O.DAYS.html

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