Pfleger firing Tio was â€œunfair and wrongâ€
By Chinta Strausberg
Apologizing to the entire city of Chicago after being charged with domestic violence, CeaseFire Director Tio Hardiman late Monday night confirmed he has been firedby Dr. Gary Slutkin who began the anti-violence program back in 2000 but said he is innocent and that he never put his hands on his wife, a woman he hasloved for the past 13-years.
â€œI never put my hands on my wife. I never hit my wife,â€ said Hardiman referring to Allison Hardiman. â€œWeâ€™ve been married for 13-years and the police have never come to my home. The truth will come out in court,â€ he told this reporter.
An irate Father Michael L. Pfleger expressed outraged over the firing of Hardiman who has been credited with stemming the violence in a number of African American communities. Referring to the firing of Hardiman, Pfleger said, â€œI think it is unfair and wrong. It seemingly looks like they fired Tio because they are more worried about the $1 million than a human life.â€
Hardiman received the $1 million funding from the city of Chicago, which ends in August. Hardiman has had problems with some Chicago Police Department brass that once tried to force him to shut down his program. The officers, including Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, did not like Hardiman or his â€œViolence Interrupters,â€ a concept he created to stem the violence because they refuse to share gang information.
Hardiman hired ex-felons who had reformed and who were able to mediate and prevent gang disturbances. They meet gangbangers on their own turfs and prevent major confrontations from occurring.
Police officials were upset that Hardimanâ€™s â€œViolence Interruptersâ€ wouldnâ€™t fork over information on the gangbangers. However, Hardiman explained if they had cooperated with the police, their role would have become totally ineffective.
Interviewed during his weekly Peacemakerâ€™s Basketball game at the Saint Sabina ARK, 7800 South Racine late Monday night, Father Michael L. Pfleger said, â€œTio got arrested, hasnâ€™t been to court yet, hasnâ€™t been charged yet; so I can only think the reason they fired him nowis because they are more concerned with keeping the money than doing right and if that is true, then WOW,â€ Pfleger said wondering which is more important tothe city of Chicago, money or â€œdoing whatâ€™s right.â€
The 50-year-old Hardiman is due in court in the Maybrook Court 9 a.m. Tuesday where he hopes to prove his innocence. Hardiman said he cannot talk about the details of the case but is determined to prove his innocence, clear his good name andgo on to begin his own CeaseFire chapter and continue what he does bestâ€”stopping street violence.
Expressing sorrow that his arrest early Friday morning and release on a $20,000 bond Saturday night brought negative media attention to the CeaseFire program he so loved, Hardiman said, â€œI am in mediation and prayer to prove my innocence. I am concerned about my wife. I love my wife,â€ he said explaining he cannot go further with the details of that incident but emphasized he never laid a hand on his wife.
â€œI am not the type of guy who would look at women. I love my wife, and the truth will come out in court. I am innocent of these charges,â€ Hardiman said.
When asked why would Dr. Slutkin fire him when he took a lot of heat from African American activists and elected officials who didnâ€™t like him, questioned Slutkin’s motives and criticized Hardiman for working with the doctor, Hardiman explained, â€œBefore this happened, Dr. Slutkin had already erased my entire history from his website.â€
Hardiman blamed this on Dr. Slutkin he said couldnâ€™t handle his popularity,â€ but to Hardiman, this is a lifetime of hard work and commitment to ending violence even if he has to put his life on the line which he has done many times.
Raised a Catholic, Hardiman, who has worked with Father Pfleger including bringing Pflegerâ€™s Peacemakers basketball concept to Christ The King College Preparatory School, said, â€œI am in deep prayer about this situation, and I am going to prove my innocence. I am innocent of those charges.â€ He also plans to take his CeaseFire program to another level and one that includes teaching young black men how to prevent domestic violence.
Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.