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North Side Group Speaks Out Against Cutting Funding to CeaseFire

By Mina Bloom | April 16, 2015 5:21am
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UPTOWN — A North Side community organization strongly disagrees with Gov. Bruce Rauner's decision to cut funding to CeaseFire, an anti-violence program that was featured in the documentary "The Interrupters," saying it is "essential in saving lives."

ONE Northside also said the government owed it more than $150,000 for expenses incurred while running the CeaseFire anti-violence program in Uptown and Rogers Park from August 2014 to March, which is when Rauner announced the slash in funding.

"We often operate in good faith with the state, fronting the funds until we can get through the state red tape ... we have never before been left in the lurch," the Rev. Montgomery Johnson, the organization's board president, said in a news release. "This governor seems to have an entirely different way of doing business, and it's very problematic."

CeaseFire was among many organizations to feel the impact of spending cuts Rauner proposed to address a statewide budget shortfall.

"If Governor Rauner's goal is to completely decimate the strong nonprofit sector in this state, he is doing a great job," the organization's executive director, Jennifer Ritter, said in the release. "$150,000 is 15 percent of our budget, but it's just a drop in the bucket to him. His agenda is clear, and it's not about people."

The agency that provides funding, Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, "has stated clearly that they will not reimburse" ONE Northside, the release said.

ONE Northside is a community organization that was formed in 2013 after Lakeview Action Coalition and Organization of Northeast merged, according to its website. Its goal is to "eliminate injustice through community organizing."

Last year, ONE Northside's CeaseFire program worked with more than 45 "high-risk" clients and conducted more than 70 conflict mediations, "which decreased violence in the community," according to the release.

CeaseFire was launched 20 years ago by a public health expert. 

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