CHICAGO (CBS) – The CeaseFire anti-violence group in Chicago has closed its South Side and West Side offices, after a $1 million grant from the city ran out.
WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports the group’s North Lawndale office closed two weeks ago, and the Woodlawn office will follow suit at the end of the month.
In North Lawndale, staffers stepped in to prevent violence 150 times over the year, leading to a 75 percent drop in homicides and shootings, while finding jobs for 42 at-risk people, and enrolling 16 others in school, according to program manger Rev. Robin Hood.
He said his phone has been ringing ever since they closed their doors.
Former CeaseFire director Tio Hardiman claimed, over the year the group received funding from the city, murders were down 100 percent in two police beats in Woodlawn.
“There were eight homicides in those two beats, compared to zero for the year that we worked there,” he said.
Hood said Mayor Rahm Emanuel would be making a good investment by providing another grant.
“The work that was done in such a short period of time was remarkable, and if it was funded again for a whole year, he would get a big bang for the taxpayers’ money,” Hood said.
Hood said about 20 other CeaseFire offices in Chicago will stay open, thanks to private donations, and state funding.
Though Police Supt. Garry McCarthy has denied any friction between police and CeaseFire, he has previously suggested the group undermines the public’s respect for police in some communities, when it tries to broker peace between gangs without police involvement.
“When an event occurs, and people are trying to deal with gang members, and somebody comes in and tries to interrupt that particular dynamic, and they tell people, ‘Well, don’t talk to the police. We understand you can’t trust the police, but look at us, you can trust us’ – they’re undercutting that legitimacy that we’re trying to create in the community,” McCarthy said last summer, not long before the city provided the $1 million grant.
A spokesman for the Department of Public Health, which provided the $1 million grant, did not say if the contract was being reconsidered.