A Community Cookout designed to help unite the community was hosted yesterday at Kiwanis Park in Galesburg.
The local chapter of the NAACP invited members of the Galesburg Police and Fire Departments to help introduce the two groups.
NAACP Chapter President Candy Webb tells WGIL the event is organized because communicating with each other is the first step in stopping any kind of violence.
“It’s very important that we do that because when we’re not communicating, we have things like looting and vandalism and a lot of times, it’s just being able to say hello to a police officer that makes you as a child not want to do anything wrong,” says Webb.
It was the second annual cookout hosted by the group and, as the name implies, served food and provided activities for youth. The event is planned several months beforehand through the NAACP’s various committees.
Part of yesterday’s gathering may carry with it some historical significance. 17th District Congresswoman Cheri Bustos presented the NAACP with a Presidential Proclamation. The document was developed for President Barack Obama’s dedication of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act.
The Congresswoman says she was given the document by civil rights leader and Georgia Congressman John Lewis.
“He was beaten to a pulp in the name of fighting for civil rights, and yet he is so kind to everybody, he continues the fight,” says Bustos. “He’s a passionate advocate for civil rights, and just with what’s going on right now, and the tensions that are going on right now, the fight’s not over.”
The NAACP took time during the event to recognize the events occurring in Ferguson, Missouri. There, a teen was allegedly shot by a member of the police force, leading to civil unrest and general protests. According to the Associated Press, a curfew has been enforced in Ferguson by the state of Missouri to help quell some of the disputes.
Bustos tells WGIL there are a lot of unanswered questions about the incident in Ferguson, but she feels compassion for the family of the person killed.
“At the same time, I don’t think we need to vilify every police department in America,” says Bustos. “My husband has been a police officer for 30 years and I know there are many good men and women who serve in law enforcement so let’s look at the facts that come out and deal with it appropriately.”
The proclamation will be framed in the near future that they intend to display at their gala in February and also hope to display it alongside an award the NAACP received from District 205 earlier this year.