Nancy Maxwell attempts to keep her candle from blowing out due to wind during the moment of silence in remembrance of Xe’Quan Campbell, a 16-year-old Carbondale Community High School student who was murdered in 2019, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, in Carbondale, Ill. (Leah Sutton | @leahsuttonphotography)
Nancy Maxwell attempts to keep her candle from blowing out due to wind during the moment of silence in remembrance of Xe’Quan Campbell, a 16-year-old Carbondale Community High School student who was murdered in 2019, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, in Carbondale, Ill.

Leah Sutton | @leahsuttonphotography

Carbondale community members hold vigil to stop gun violence

“Just because we’re a smaller area, just because we’re not a large metropolitan area, does not mean that we can not affect major change,” Wells said. “I truly believe we can no matter how small we are.”

October 23, 2020

Southern Illinois Unity Coalition organized a vigil on Friday to bring awareness to gun violence and in remembrance of a 16-year-old Carbondale Community High School student who was murdered in November of 2019.

In April of 2019, when Xe’Quan Campbell was 15, he and his brother took a gun from another student on the school bus, preventing any violent incident. Later in Nov., Campbell was shot outside a relative’s apartment on 1225 West Freeman St.

See More: 16-year-old killed in shooting early Friday 

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See More: Mourners gather at vigil for Xe’Quan Campbell, Keon Cooper 

The march began at 1218 West Freeman St, about a minute away from where Campbell was shot. The group quietly marched to the City Pavilion where they held a moment of silence.  This vigil is the kickoff to the coalition’s weekend long event called ‘Stop the Violence’.

Nancy Maxwell, a member of the coalition said the group wants to continue to bring awareness to gun violence.

“Carbondale United does the virtual summits, Southern Unity Coalition is down on the ground,” Maxwell said. “We’re out here in the fields, marching and hosting other events trying to bring the community together.”

Maxwell said this personally impacts her because in the summer she attended around four funerals of family members in the span of a week due to gun violence. 

“[Campbell’s death] was in the news and papers everywhere and then it just got silent,” Maxwell said. “It’s kind of like when somebody dies due to police brutality, everyone is up in arms and they want to get out and do something and then it dies down.”

The goal is for neither subject to die down, Maxwell said. 

Jon Dalessio is with the Unity Coalition as well and was in Carbondale when Campbell was murdered. 

He said he remembers when Campbell was in the news for stopping an incident at school involving gun violence and then later hearing that Campbell himself had become a victim to it.

“These are minors we’re talking about,” Dalessio said. “It’s just sad.”

Dalessio said there’s a heartbreaking irony of it all and there needs to be stringent laws in regards to firearms.

Julian Wells, another member of the group, said she attended to bring awareness to gun violence and to hopefully bring an end to senseless violence in general.

Wells attended the march with her six-year-old daughter and said, as a mother, she automatically thought about Campbell’s mother and family.

“I have to add I will never know that exact fear, race based fear. I will never have to worry about my daughter being a victim of gun violence because of the color of her skin,” Wells said.

This incident is still very hard to talk about because of how heartbreaking it is, Wells said. She said she really hopes there will be more community outreach in Carbondale and to get transparency with the local government and police department.

“Just because we’re a smaller area, just because we’re not a large metropolitan area, does not mean that we can not affect major change,” Wells said. “I truly believe we can no matter how small we are.”

Staff reporter Keaton Yates can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @keatsians.

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