The Galesburg community has been plagued with violent crimes. The most recent act was the murder of 15-year-old Javon Butler.
In retaliation to the violence, a community packed inside the First Baptist Church in downtown Galesburg Sunday, January 26, 2014. The event was organized by Minister Greg Vickers.
“We as a community need to start taking more accountability,” Vickers said.
Vickers moved to Galesburg from Lake County, Illinois several years ago to escape the violence. He says he doesn’t recognize the Galesburg where he once lived.
“Violence is something I haven’t been familiar with in this community,” Vickers said.
People of all backgrounds were in attendance including police officers, religious leaders and teachers. Jordan McDonald, an English teacher at Galesburg High School North, was in attendance.
“When I look at the real problem with kids these days it’s them not having a positive role model,” McDonald said.
He knows firsthand what violence does to this community. He was Devon Butler’s teacher.
“It’s one of those things you don’t imagine in your worst nightmare,” McDonald continued, “But the way things are looking right now, not only is it a reality, but it could happen again.”
That’s why McDonald posed tough questions to community leaders, asking things like how they can tackle kids' negative actions on social media. McDonald fears those actions can translate into physical violence.
But as dozens of people joined together in their final prayer of the event, Minister Vickers made one thought clear.
“We need to stay prayerful, closely connected and keep promoting unity in our community,” said Vickers.
The people of Galesburg know they have a challenge ahead of them, but they are prepared for battle.