Chicago Trial Starts Sept. 9

A.K. Small,
Revolutionary Youth Organizer:
On the Frontlines Around Public Housing
and Police Repression

Revolutionary Worker #973, September 13, 1998

The trial of Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade members A.K. Small and Shawn Wall starts in Chicago on September 9. As the RW has reported, AK and Shawn were arrested in February 1997 after 300 public housing residents and their supporters marched in on an "invitation only" meeting aimed at whitewashing Mayor Daley's plan to eliminate the Cabrini Green housing project. (For more on the struggle at Cabrini Green, see "Oppose the Elimination of Public Housing!" in RW #961.) The following is based largely on a press release from the RCYB 2 Defense Committee.

On the frontlines of society's major battles is where A.K. Small can be found. His home is in the housing projects, in the streets amid protest, and in jail or the courtroom challenging injustice. It was A.K. who was arrested on top of the wrecking crane at Horner Homes in 1995 as the first demolition ball prepared to fall, marking the inauguration of the program by the federal Housing and Urban Development department (HUD) to dismantle public housing. A.K. is active in the fight against the epidemic of police abuse and the criminalization of a whole generation of youth. A.K. lives where poor people's struggle to survive meets the forging of a revolutionary movement. A.K. Small is both a fighter and a visionary. He is a revolutionary communist leader who the authorities want to suppress--but who people need to know about.

On Sept. 9, A.K. Small will stand trial facing charges stemming from the Feb. 22, 1997 protest against Mayor Daley's Cabrini Green redevelopment plan. Mayor Daley and his developer allies were stunned as their carefully orchestrated media event aimed at unveiling their redevelopment plan for Cabrini Green was dramatically disrupted. 300 uninvited residents, tenant and community leaders, and Coalition to Protect Public Housing activists made their voices heard. Mayor Daley refused to show his face. Instead, a massive police contingent was sent in. A.K. Small and co-defendant Shawn Wall were singled out and arrested in retaliation and are facing trumped-up charges of disorderly conduct and resisting and obstructing a police officer. A.K. Small has vowed to defend the Feb. 22 protest in court and put the City's racist urban cleansing policy and its police spying tactics on trial. Mayor Daley's "point man" for Cabrini Green and leading architect of "urban cleansing" policies--David Tkac--has been subpoenaed by the defense to testify at the trial.

The Feb. 22 protesters earned Mayor Daley's vengeance by disrupting his fast-track redevelopment process, and they became a catalyst for a broader movement of resistance against the national plan to dismantle public housing. According to Cora Moore, President of the Cabrini Green Local Advisory Council: "A.K.'s a good community leader. He's a brother I love to have on my side when I'm out in the battlefield because I know my back is covered."

A.K. Small is a long-standing target of the Chicago Police Department. He is currently involved in the legal case around the Police Spying Consent Decree. A new round in court was instigated when Mayor Daley went to federal court in March '97 to overturn court-ordered restrictions on police spying in Chicago. The plaintiffs have charged that Mayor Daley's stated argument for greater police spying powers--more freedom to supposedly combat criminal activity by gangs--is a cover for unconstitutional political repression.

Relevant evidence from A.K.'s police file has come to light which reveals the hidden methods of a new political police. The plaintiffs received in discovery a "gang contact card" made by the CPD on A.K. The CPD lists A.K.'s "gang affiliation" as the "Communist Party." In the face of further subpoenas, the CPD and Illinois Police have flatly refused to turn over other documents that could show how A.K.'s "gang affiliation" was entered on this database, and what other political organizations or individuals are being monitored via the database. The gang database records received thus far indicate that A.K.'s listing was initiated by the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) police in the summer of 1996 when A.K. was arrested at Henry Horner Homes while organizing for a protest around police brutality and the Democratic National Convention.

The targeting of A.K. Small by the CPD has a lengthy and revealing history. In 1990, A.K. was the focal point of a police riot at the December 30 Public Enemy concert at the Aragon Theatre. A.K. was leading a speakout against the U.S. war on Iraq when protesters and concertgoers were brutally attacked by the police. CPD actions at the Public Enemy concert were subsequently exposed by victims in a successful class action lawsuit against the City of Chicago. In 1995, a three-year-long railroad concluded when A.K. was acquitted of felony aggravated battery charges stemming from a protest against the CHA police killing of Bo Lucas at the southside Ickes housing project.

Today A.K. remains in the forefront of protests against police brutality in the housing projects and the city. Since 1996, A.K. has been an organizer for the Oct. 22nd National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and Criminalization of a Generation.

A.K. Small is a leader of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade who has dedicated the past decade of his life to organizing resistance to the war on public housing. In 1990 A.K. abandoned his university education to come to Chicago. A.K. has a controversial and unique perspective on the youth in the housing projects who have essentially become a symbol for the criminalization of a whole generation. While official public opinion portrays project youth as vicious savages, and while many good-hearted middle class people fear them, A.K. views the youth as the hope for the future whose place is in the forefront of a revolutionary movement instead of behind bars. A.K. indicts the ruling class and the police as society's "real criminals" for creating degrading and desperate conditions for millions of angry and explosive youth. A.K. stands shoulder to shoulder with the youth in struggle while challenging them to dedicate their lives to a liberating mission--to live and die for a revolution against all oppression.

A.K. has deep, first-hand experience with youth's conditions of life, their struggle for survival and their hopes and dreams. A.K. has been actively involved in efforts to build and strengthen gang truces. In 1992, while incarcerated in Cook County Jail, A.K. was a first-hand witness to a prison rebellion of young men against overcrowded, inhuman conditions. Talking about the youth at Cabrini Green and the February 22 protests, A.K. said, "The demonstration was about the lives, the future, of thousands of people. And the youth are about the future. They marched into the meeting with all their energy, their rowdiness, and their unwillingness to put up with bullshit.... It was a pretty powerful sight!"

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
Write: Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497
(The RW Online does not currently communicate via email.)