"We have lost a life and this is why we are here," says Julio Salgado of the local group Latinos for Progress.
Members of Saldago's group and the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, gathered at Monday night's city council meeting. Their goal is to draw attention to growing violence on the streets of Rockford, specifically to the shooting death of a 47-year old ice cream vendor, Isidro Duran in southwest Rockford just over a week ago.
"LULAC does consider this a hate crime. This was an overkill. We've mentioned it before to the mayor that this side of the city, the southwest side is a war zone," says Mary Lou Castro, of LULAC.
Now the two groups want to come up with a plan of action to reduce violence on our streets. They have a meeting on Friday with representatives from the police department and the mayor's office. Group members say they want a greater police presence. But Mayor Larry Morrissey says the problem runs deeper than that.
"If they don't have a family present, if they don't have a community setting proper norms, you wind up with children walking around with guns, committing the kind of senseless crimes that we've got in our community. Is that something that just hiring more police officers solves? No, we've got to dig deep in a lot of social issues in our community," says Morrissey.
Another local ice cream vendor and good friend of the murdered Duran fears doing his job now. He hopes real progress will be made soon.
"If we can't be safe it's going to be a problem, I can't go sell ice cream. I can't support myself," says Fernando Rodriguez.
The groups will also speak out at Rockford's city council meeting next Monday. They hope to keep up a dialogue with the city until they reach their goal.