Church and Basketball Reducing Chicago Violence?

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By Christine Thomasos, Christian Post Reporter
November 2, 2012|4:45 pm

After months of media reports about the murder rates in Chicago, the killing seems to have slowed down in October. According to some, basketball and faith may be behind the increase in peace.

According to Associated Press reports, the murder rates in Chicago were so low last month that 1982 was the last time that the residents in Illinois' windy city have witnessed so few killings in October. Tio Hardiman, director of the city's anti-violence initiative CeaseFire Illinois, thinks basketball has been responsible for the turnaround in the city.

Last September, Hardiman helped gather gang members and well-known NBA stars of the past and present to speak to local gangs about keeping the peace in their city and spreading the word about doing so. The local gangs also participated in some friendly games of basketball.

"Basketball is a team sport. They're gonna learn that they can play with their perceived enemy," Hardiman said in an NBA report at the onset of the Peace Tournament last September. "Hopefully after this tournament, we can get brothers to embrace, look at each other eye-to-eye and say, 'You're my brother. We're not enemies anymore.'"

While the gang members were joined by Chicago Bulls stars Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah, former NBA center Quentin Richardson and Hall-of-Famer Isiah Thomas also joined in with the efforts to help alleviate the violence in the city. The tournament took place at Sabina Church on Chicago's South side last September, and now Thomas plans to make a return to his hometown on the West Side of Chicago for another Basketball Tournament for Peace at Christ the King Jesuit School on Nov. 17.

"Seven of those fellows got jobs as a result of that day," Hardiman said in an NBA report about the results of the last tournament. "Shootings have been reduced, too."

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