The CeaseFire Reunion: Embracing Legacy, Inspiring the Future

Former members of CeaseFire, a community violence intervention organization, reunited at the Metropolitan Peace Academy on Saturday, April 6, 2024 in Pilsen.

Members of Chicago’s former community violence intervention organization CeaseFire, formerly known as Cure Violence, recently reunited, marking the organization’s historical contribution and its ongoing impact on gun violence prevention efforts. This significant celebration commemorated the enduring legacy of CeaseFire’s pioneering initiative established in 1995 to combat gun violence in Chicago. 

Approximately 140 individuals from various regions of Illinois attended the event held at the new Metropolitan Peace Academy (MPA), all united by their commitment to fostering peace and addressing gun violence. Attendees reflected on the profound influence CeaseFire had on their professional trajectories and the broader landscape of violence prevention.

Tio Hardiman, former CeaseFire Illinois’ Director and founder of Violence Interrupters, emphasized the transformative journey many have undertaken since their involvement with CeaseFire, stating, “It’s really amazing to see how many people have benefited from Ceasefire. A lot of people in the field of violence prevention right now started with CeaseFire and now they do high-level work all across the nation and across the world.”

The historical documentary The Interrupters played while participants enjoyed food and caught up with their peers. Following dinner, Reverend Darius Randle started the program with a prayer. The roster of distinguished speakers included Dr. Gary Slutkin, founder of CeaseFire/Cure Violence; Dr. Chico Tillmon, the Executive Director of the Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy; Dr. Elena Quintana, Executive Director of Adler University’s Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice; and MPA Associate Director of Crisis Prevention Response Unit Rodney Phillips. Each speaker reflected on CeaseFire’s evolution and enduring significance.

CeaseFire Co-founder and Director Tio Hardiman took the podium to discuss the lasting impact of the organization.

Throughout the event, speakers reiterated the importance of honoring CeaseFire’s legacy while remaining steadfast in the pursuit of progress. “Let’s keep moving forward with this body of work,” Dr. Tillmon said enthusiastically. 

Dr. Quintana provided a historical overview detailing CeaseFire’s pivotal role in community empowerment and gun violence reduction. “CeaseFire showed investing in the community means the community violence goes down,” said Quintana.

Phillips spoke on the unity from the very beginning. “That’s the thing that really got me. We were all working together, not against each other. We were together as one… pooling our resources together trying to make our community safe,” he said.

Dr. Slutkin, keynote speaker of the evening, emphasized the transformative nature of the initiative. “It was the design of something new that no one understood,” he said.

Concluding the event, Hardiman echoed the program’s common sentiment, “We paved the way,” he said, beautifully encapsulating the collective pride and unwavering determination of all those gathered to carry forward CeaseFire’s enduring legacy into the future.