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Peoria Mayoral Candidate Helps Raise Bail For People Arrested in Weekend Civil Unrest

Peoria County

Peoria activist and mayoral candidate Chama St. Louis and the Peoria Community Bond Fund worked to bond four people charged in this week's civil unrest out of the Peoria County Jail.St. Louis said the group feels it's not right for people to sit in jail when they have lives, families, and jobs to get back to.

"While we do recognize that the behavior is not the ideal behavior for a lot of us, behavior that you [don't] necessarily want to see happen, it was still the right thing to do," she said.

St. Louis said another four had already bonded out, and another person arrested in the overnight hours of Sunday night into early Monday morning had a hold in place. The Peoria Community Bond Project coordinated with the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice.

She declined to say how much was paid for bail. St. Louis worked on bail bond reform before announcing her candidacy for Peoria mayor.

Peoria County State's Attorney Jodi Hoossaid the nine people charged Tuesday could face between two and 30 years in prison if convicted, depending on their previous backgrounds.

St. Louis said she believes the city is missing a key component by not addressing systemic oppression in Peoria.

"I think what we're seeing now is really cause and effect, and I think that without really being bold and taking bold action to address the systemic things that have happened to black people in this city, then they are completely missing the mark," she said.

St. Louis, who spoke at last weekend's peaceful "We Matter March," said this is a defining moment for Peoria to decide where it stands on addressing racism. She said people should choose a side and take a stand now to help take care of all of the city's residents.

"I'm hoping that this time is not just a movement for a moment," St. Louis said. "You know, that this is something that is sustainable for long-term."

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis said he intends to run for a fifth term. Ardis called the weekend unrest in Peoria and across the country "beyond horrendous and repulsive," but said he supports peaceful protest and is willing to talk to those willing to engage in constructive dialogue.

The mayoral election is in 2021.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article stated the Peoria Community Bond Project couldn't raise bond for one person. That was incorrect. That person had a hold placed on their bond. We apologize for the error. A quote has also been expanded to add additional context.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.