Three ex-felons are hitting Chicago’s streets to fight against violent crimes.
Derrick House, Frederick Seaton and Napoleon English are all too familiar with the city’s violence. Each of them have spent time in prison; two for murder.
Instead of working against the system, they’ve joined forces with Ceasefire to help prevent the rise of future felons.
This year, the number of homicides in Chicago shot up 39 percent in the first six months compared to 2011.
This Friday, the Chicago Police Department and Ceasefire are joining forces to combat the crime.
Ceasefire began in 2000 as a public health initiative to prevent street violence. The organization was often scrutinized for recruiting ex-felons and gang members into their program.
"Eighty percent of the homicides in Chicago are black on black homicides," said Tio Hardiman, the executive director of Ceasefire.
Hardman grew up in the city’s gang-riddled Henry Horner Housing complex. He believes in the organization’s mission of keeping a guy from “crossing the line.”
The city has a long history of high homicide numbers. Twenty years ago, Chicago had a total of 900 homicides in one year.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel believes that this year’s effort to fight violence is taking a more aggressive approach by boarding up vacant buildings, creating after school programs and using legal RICO statutes to prosecute gang leaders.
There are over 100,000 gang members in the city.
City officials explained that the gangs that exist today do not have the top-down, structure of some of the notable ones of the 1970’s. Instead, they describe the current gang activity as anarchy.
"There is no gang structure on the west side," said Fred Seaton. "It's just cliques."
"You have these renegade factions, anybody might shoot you now-a-days," said Hardiman.
"In order to stop this violence we have to have some jobs," said Patricia Bradley, a concerned citizen. "Some of our young people are so full of rage and hate that you don’t know where to start," Bradley noted.
Last year, Ceasefire reported that they worked with over 1,000 high-risk youth for over 48,000 hours. The organization believes that their work is making a heavy impact.
"I never feel hopeless," Derrick House said. "Never. I’m like, can’t give up on 'em. You can’t give up on 'em."
Ceasefire said that they’ve seen a 20-percent reduction in homicides and shootings between January and May of this year.
"In order to stop a homicide you have to have the ability to intercept a whisper," Bradley said, "it only takes about five seconds to pull the trigger."