Peaceful protest & Stand Up for Peace tap into emotional unrest - Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Peaceful protest & Stand Up for Peace tap into emotional unrest in recent shooting

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Signs from the peaceful protest outside Peoria Police HQ Signs from the peaceful protest outside Peoria Police HQ

Unanswered questions remain in the case of the Peoria suspect police say engaged them in a shootout that left one of their own injured last Thursday.

Although police confirmed that suspect, Daniel El died, they still haven't said who shot first or if a weapon was recovered.

Illinois State Police is investigating, per standard procedure, but some in the community decided not to wait for investigation results, to express their concerns.

A group of about 25 braved the snow Monday evening to peacefully protest outside of the Peoria Police station. 

They said it was an opportunity to show their discontent with the way they feel law enforcement has handled El's death and a death that occurred last fall, Eddie Russell, Jr.

 "We are not afraid to call out people when they are abusing or oppressing our people, the community in general." said Chama St. Louis during the protest.

St. Louis is the Co-Founder of the Black Justice Project and a community activist  who explained the group's peaceful protest was about communicating.

She explained that the protesters were pushing for law enforcement to take citizens' lives seriously and to be transparent, citing body cameras as one of the ways to achieve that. 

After wrapping up at police headquarters, some of the same protesters then attended a Stand Up for Peace  event at the Peoria Gateway building, where their frustration about police involved shootings and the death of Daniel El, were the focus.

The issue of body cameras came up again during the event. One woman questioning where they were.

"Why has it taken us three years to get body cameras? The question is, is my child next? Is it my mother that's gonna be next? Is it my father that's gonna be next?  That's the question and that's the fear. The police should not be feared." said Keri Hayes, St. Louis' co-founder for the BJP.

Because they're still in a pilot program, Peoria police won't be completely outfitted with the cameras until spring, but for those gathered at the Stand Up For Peace, that wasn't soon enough.

While the search for answers rang throughout the room, the reality of El's death continued to cause emotional unrest.

El's girlfriend Amber Strong, was among those who addressed attendees.  Strong said she was on the phone with El when police pulled him over.

"Daniel was cooperating with everything that they said. You could tell there was fear in that man's voice. He knew he was gonna die." explained Strong. 

But police say El tried to get away and then engaged in gunfire,  resulting in an officer being shot.  

Members of Peoria Community Against Violence said their job wasn't to take a position in the investigation, rather to call on the city to come together to prevent more deaths. 

"Our mission is about lives. It doesn't matter black, blue, white brown, yellow. It's about embracing people and supporting and just wrapping our arms around people in respect to life in general. " said Terry Burnside, PCAV Director.

We reached out to Peoria Police for an update. Their department then instructed us to direct all questions to Illinois State Police. We did not hear back from ISP.

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