Ceasefire On Last Legs After Funding Dries Up

Gang mediation program expected to close second office

A CeaseFire office in North Lawndale has closed its doors after a $ 1 million dollar grant from the city was exhausted.

The grant was part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's efforts in 2012 to decrease violence on the South and West sides of the city and funded offices in North Lawndale and Woodlawn.

The organization uses "Violence Interrupters," most of whom are former gang members, to return to the streets in an effort to stop neighborhood violence. The office provided jobs for individuals, often with criminal records.

West side activist Rev. Robin Hood, who worked at the North Lawndale office, said as of August 31 they had to lay off the entire 12-person team, but he will continue the work, with or without pay.

"I believe Ceasefire works," said Hood. "I know Ceasefire works. I'm watching it in my community."

Under the grant, CeaseFire reported 141 potentially fatal conflicts were resolved in the past year city-wide, and services were provided to 75 high risk participants in North Lawndale.

24th Ward Alderman Michael Chandler, whose ward includes North Lawndale, said he was unaware the funding for CeaseFire had stopped, but hopes it will be restored.

"It's another tool that we need to help stop the violence in our neighborhood," said Chandler.

According to CeaseFire's statistics, in 2013 there was a 75 percent reduction in homicides in North Lawndale.

Police statistics also show the homicide rate this year is down 22 percent city-wide compared to 2012.

However, last month the crime rate has spiked in the 10th Police District, which includes North Lawndale, with four homicides compared to one homicide in 2012.

A spokesman for the Chicago Department of Health, which provided the grant, said CeaseFire, was part of a "comprehensive strategy" that reduced the homicide rate, and that future funding could be possible.

The CeaseFire office in Englewood will continue to operate through funding from foundations, but CeaseFire's office in Woodlawn is expected to close at the end of the month as well.

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