He hands people his business card and says, “Call me if you have a problem.”
Mike Collier of Rock Island said he has broken up many arguments before they’ve escalated into violent confrontations.
On Thursday, he said a teenage girl had some trouble in her neighborhood, so her parents called Collier. He’s also gotten calls after shots are fired.
He knows that at any moment, he could step into crossfire between rival groups. Yet, he said he doesn’t fear for his safety.
“I was born here,” Collier said. “Everybody knows and respects me.”
He and Jerald Gay of Rock Island co-founded a group called Pro-Active, and on Sunday, they’re organizing an event at Rock Island’s Martin Luther King Jr. Center to raise awareness of street violence.
Families of Quad-City murder victims have been invited to speak at the event.
“Kids today aren’t taught there are consequences to their actions,” said Larry Terrill Clayburne of Davenport, father of 17-year-old murder victim Kion Lewis. “They’re not thinking. You take a life, it’s gone.”
On Sept. 7, Lewis was hanging out with friends in the 1000 block of 11th Avenue, Rock Island, when he was caught in a crossfire and died of gunshot wounds.
Donyale Wilcox of Davenport lost her younger brother, Samuel Rush, in a March 30, 2010, shooting in Rock Island.
“It’s time we as a community bring awareness to this problem and eliminate this,” Wilcox said. “It’s unreal kids are not taking into consideration what they’re doing when they pick up a gun.”
Kel Branigan, Kelton Trice’s father, also is invited to speak.
Trice, 21, of East Moline was shot and killed April 16, 2008, by an East Moline police officer after the two exchanged gunfire, according to county officials who investigated the incident. Former Rock Island County State’s Attorney Jeff Terronez later found no evidence of wrongdoing by police.
“I don’t know if it was justified,” Branigan said of the shooting. “That’s not for me to judge. But any violence is uncalled for.”
Collier embarked on his crusade seven years ago with a march to Rock Island’s Longview Park after other shooting incidents involving teens.
“We can talk to them before it escalates,” Collier said.
He quotes Ezekiel 3:17 from the Bible and refers to himself as a “watchman” called by God to protect youth in the Quad-Cities.
Collier also has suffered tragedy, having lost his son in a car accident.
His cousin, LaShaune Wright, 28, of Rock Island, was stabbed to death by her boyfriend, Steven D. Hill, on Jan. 1, 2007. Hill, 49, pleaded guilty to one count of murder and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Collier said Wright had two children.
Wilcox said Rush left behind a son, and he’ll never see him graduate or get married.
“He didn’t get the chance to raise his son,” Wilcox said. “I hate that people can take all that away from you.”
Clayburne thinks today’s younger generation isn’t taught to respect adults as he was. He also said fathers need to step up and get more involved in their children’s lives.
He added he’s the first to admit his own faults.
“Could I have done something to prevent it?” Clayburne asked about Lewis’ murder. “I’m still devastated. You can’t control everything that happens. I just wish I spent more time with him and removed him from certain situations.”
Lewis would be turning 18 on April 1.
“I’m still very angry, upset, and I just pray to God to help me get through it,” Clayburne said.
Wilcox said she used to be one of those who said the violence wasn’t her problem.
“Now, I’ve walked down that path,” she said. “Please don’t ever think it won’t happen to you. At the end of the day, bullets have no eyes.”