A rise in violent crime citywide has spurred cries of concern, but police say the slight increase may be ending and, contrary to published reports, the incidents do not involve racially motivated "polar bear hunting."
What Champaign Police Chief R.T. Finney confirmed is that offenders have mentioned the term "pick them out, knock them out," in reference to attacks in which victims are selected and knocked down in one punch.
He said the offenders would walk in groups of at least two, approach the victim, utter a comment and then beat him or her. These unprovoked attacks were typically instigated by local individuals younger than 22 years old. Some were connected to local gangs.
A significant but not highly unusual uptick in violent crime on and around the University of Illinois campus in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., has combined with an unprecedented expansion of university crime alerts, well in excess of what is required, to create a climate of fear and concern among many parents and some students. Despite criticism of the U of I police departmentís performance, it is actually Champaign and Urbana city police who are responsible for investigating a majority of these crimes.