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Beloit resident: 'I go to bed at night hearing gunshots'

By Velena Jones, vjones@wisctv.com
Published On: May 24 2014 11:41:53 AM CDT
Updated On: May 24 2014 01:31:46 PM CDT

Beloit community members band together against recent violence including four homicides in the past month. Velena Jones reports.

A rash of gun crimes in Beloit prompted a community group to hold a town hall meeting on the issue Friday night.

"I go to bed at night hearing gunshots. In the last week or so I've heard gunshots on at least three nights," said longtime Beloit resident William Moore.

Community members concerned with the recent violence affecting Beloit spoke out in the town hall meeting, in hopes of breaking the cycle and standing up against fear.

"It's like we are not sure what's going to happen next. We're not sure how this is going to affect us. We're not sure if we do have a voice, will we be harmed? It's just so much uncertainty," said Beloit resident Vanessa Graham.

Community Action, a local not-for-profit organization that works with disadvantaged and troubled youth and adults in the community, hosted Friday's town hall meeting.

An activist with Community Action, Dr. Dennis Baskin, said the meeting's goal was to initiate community support.

"This is our community, no-one else can fix the problems in our community better than the people who live in this community," he said.

This week alone, there have been two shootings in the city. Tuesday a softball game at Krueger park ended early after gunshots rang out near the field.

Jeffrey Hardnett, 25, was shot multiple times on hull avenue early Thursday. Hardnett was pronounced dead when he arrived at Beloit memorial hospital.

Baskin, a lifelong resident of Beloit, said it's time to face the problem as a community.

"We want to send a message to the young ... that we are concerned about their conduct and that we want to couch this as a two-prong approach in addressing it: personal responsibility and opportunity," Baskin said.

Personal responsibility and providing opportunity for the youth is what community members and law enforcement said hope will combat the recent crimes.

Beloit Police Chief Norm Jacobs said the town hall meeting is only the beginning.

"Violence is an epidemic, it's like a disease, and it has to be dealt with a number of different ways; not just by arresting a person," Jacobs said. "That's like cutting out a small portion of a disease that's in your whole body."

Friday Jacobs urged community members to speak up and help catch the people responsible for the recent homicides and gunfire in the area.

"There is no reason to believe that the violence from any one of these is going to continue; but we need to get the players in these incidence off the street so the community can feel more secure," Jacobs said.

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