Interrupters creator: CeaseFire developing better relationship with Chicago police
Wednesday night's special South Side showing of the must-see documentary The Interrupters felt, as a friends-and-family event should, more like a laidback picnic than a red-carpet movie premiere. As TOC Film editor Ben Kenigsberg and I previoiusly reported about the screening, CeaseFire interrupter Cobe Williams's beloved aunt catered the event with rib tips and macaroni. Overall, the evening was a joyful and affectionate homecoming for the filmmakers and those whose lives were chronicled.
The only moment of mild static involved the Chicago Police Department's presence outside the I.C.E. Chatham 14 that night. During an interview with me, CeaseFire Illinois director Tio Hardiman, a former street hustler who created the interrupters program, pointed out a police SUV driving slowly by in the parking lot. “I don’t know why the police are riding around here,” he told us. “[CeaseFire is] up and down with the police department. I don’t know why they came out here. Sometimes our relationship is real good, sometimes it’s not good. I’m looking around and I’m not too crazy about the police right now.” The film also touches on that up-and-down relationship: In order to be effective arbitrators on the streets, CeaseFire interrupters can't be seen as agents of the law enforcement establishment.
This morning, Hardiman called TOC and asked to clarify his comments. "We're working on trying to improve our relationships with the Chicago police department," he said. "I've reached out to Superintendent McCarthy and First Deputy Wysinger to discuss how CeaseFire can work with the Chicago police department to help reduce violence in Chicago." As is clear in the film, Hardiman and CeaseFire are willing to bridge any divide—rival gangs, strained family relationships—so long as it leads to a safer Chicago.