New York City has enjoyed a new reputation for safety in recent years, particularly compared to Chicago, but over the weekend there was a rash of shootings—25 people shot in just 48 hours— that had residents praying the violence was temporary.
It was the first weekend where the temperature hit a summer swelter, leading many longtime city residents to link the violence to the inevitable rise in tempers that comes with summer. Of the 25 people shot, 6 of them died.
With a yearly total now of 440 shootings, New York is still having one of its least violent years in its history. The 440 is a 23 percent drop compared with the 574 victims shot through this time last year, according to the New York Daily News.
For its part, Chicago had 12 wounded and one killed in shootings over the weekend. Dionte Maxwell, 18, was shot to death at a party Friday night in the South Side Avalon Park neighborhood. Someone pulled out a gun at about 10:45 p.m. and shot him. Maxwell later died at Jackson Park Hospital.
Also in Chicago, the director of the anti-violence group CeaseFire Illinois, which has been credited with reducing violence in the Chicago neighborhoods where the group works, said he’s innocent of the domestic violence charge he’s facing after he was arrested for allegedly punching and kicking his wife.
Tio Hardiman, 50, said he experienced a “spiritual awakening” in the Cook County Jail after his arrest.
“I know it’s a funny place to have a spiritual awakening, but I had one in jail,” Hardiman, who was arrested Friday, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Hardiman said he was innocent of the charges and emphasized he was not speaking on behalf of CeaseFire, which is affiliated with the University of Illinois at Chicago.
“I’ve been with my wife for 13 years and never had a problem like this,” said Hardiman, who was released on a $20,000 bond Saturday on a misdemeanor charge of domestic battery. Prosecutors said his wife, 47, suffered bruises, a cut to her neck and a swollen lip.
Prosecutors said Hardiman was convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery in 1999, but Hardiman wouldn’t comment on the conviction, except to say “I’m human.”
“I still am a champion for the people,” Hardiman said. “I would hope everybody continues to support the good work of CeaseFire and its 100 employees. … Hopefully I will be vindicated and get back to work.”
In a statement released over the weekend, Dr. Gary Slutkin, the founder of CeaseFire and the director of Cure Violence, the organization that oversees CeaseFire, said, “As a matter of established policy, CeaseFire and the University of Illinois have zero tolerance for anyone with domestic-related charges, or crimes against women or children, currently or in their background. CeaseFire has developed strict policies to make sure that all employees remain in a good standing. Mr. Hardiman has been placed on administrative leave as we look into further appropriate actions.”
CeaseFire has a $1 million city contract to prevent retaliatory shootings in two high-crime neighborhoods in Chicago, Woodlawn and North Lawndale on the West Side.
Hardiman pointed out recently that there were no murders this year through late May in the two police beats where CeaseFire is working under the contract in Woodlawn.