CeaseFire hosts pre-New Year’s Eve Peace Summit

Organizers want to ring in 2012 with less violence.

December 29, 2011

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(AP/M. Spencer Green)
'Violence interrupters' with CeaseFire, photographed in Chicago in 2006.

Three hundred African-American and Latino young men are set to gather Friday for a pre-New Year’s Eve peace summit.

CeaseFire, the anti-violence group, will host the summit on Chicago’s West Side.

Illinois Director Tio Hardiman said there’s a lot of conflict currently infecting the streets. The desire is to have the session quell tension before 2012 rings in.

“We’re doing our best to promote a peaceful New Year’s Eve – and talk to these young guys about not shooting their guns on New Year’s Eve and settling up their differences with other guys. Some of these conflicts are dealing with females as well,” Hardiman said.

Organizers want the youth to talk about why so many young men are quick to draw their guns. They also expect participants to role-play how to avoid violence.

Youth often make headlines when there’s violence. Two teens died Tuesday night after gunfire broke out at a Church’s Chicken in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. Hardiman said despite conventional wisdom, the root of most youth violence is not gang-related.

“A lot of the violence in Chicago is interpersonal violence and then it spirals into gang-related violence,” Hardiman said. Cliques, or neighborhood crews, inhabit the city.

Hardiman said the peace summit will also address racial hostility among black and Latino teens who live in the adjacent North Lawndale and Little Village neighborhoods.