Earlier today, peaceful community protests regarding the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week took a violent turn when groups of individuals began to destroy property and loot from stores at Market Place Mall and other businesses in Champaign. The concerns and anger that protestors are expressing are raw and real in response to the senseless deaths and mistreatment of African Americans across the country, but this type of unlawful behavior is harmful to all of us. I know that people are angry, hurting and sad, but if people continue to express their anger and emotions through rioting, looting, and violent actions more people are going to get hurt.
Doing damage to businesses harms all of us because these businesses provide jobs and the business owners and employees are members of our community. They are our friends, family and neighbors. The concerns of protesters are understandable, but we need to channel our anger in ways that are productive…not destructive. It is important that as a community we continue to have these important discussions about race, inequality, and community-police relations.
To promote community safety I am implementing a curfew order effective this evening at 8:30 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. This curfew is not intended to punish our residents, but to protect them. I would ask that all members of our community be off the street and not be out in public during that timeframe. Please stay home while tensions over today’s protests calm down and areas of unrest can be safely and peacefully secured.
Real and honest dialogues about race and police-community relations are already taking place in Champaign through efforts like the Champaign County Community Coalition, and these discussions have led to positive changes and improvements to transparency and citizen involvement in reviewing the actions of local law enforcement. We have made advances in these areas and will continue to do so in a collaborative fashion.
Peaceful protests and the continuation of these frank and honest dialogues about our continued need to implement societal changes are the right way to go about this problem…not violent acts of destruction. We’re better than that. I will continue to work with all our residents and community leaders to work together toward a peaceful solution.
Deborah Frank Feinen
Mayor, City of Champaign