The Strong-Hearted Ones vs. the CPD

How the Chicago police tried to stop people at Cabrini Green from joining October 22nd

Revolutionary Worker #980, November 1, 1998

October 22nd, Chicago--Chicago police came down heavy on people from the Cabrini Green projects who gathered to hook up with the National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality.

Mid-afternoon, about 70 people were gathering, waiting for two buses to take them to the downtown rally. Clusters of young men and women were grouped by the side of the street. Suddenly squad cars squealed up. Cops jumped out, guns drawn, clubs out. They ordered people down on their knees, one group after another, frisking people, ordering people to break up.

"They cursing at us," one young man later told the RW, "saying `Shut the fuck up! Get down!'--before they try to hit you in your head with their batons." Another added, "They called us n*gger and muthafucker to our faces."

Over bullhorns, members of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade and other youth denounced these cops, saying this was exactly what the National Day of Protest was aimed at stopping. Meanwhile, local activist Dr. Nehemiah Russell was up in the face of the local police commander, demanding an end to this attack. A banner was unfurled, right on the spot, "We Are Human Beings, We Demand a Better World, We Will Not Accept Slavery in Any Form."

This is Amerikkka 1998: Here the authorities press ahead--determined to brutalize the people and keep them silent. Here, in the projects and ghetto streets, the words "democracy" and "freedom of speech" are bitter and empty. Here, especially, it takes great courage and determination to step out, and to resist.

The people who gathered in Cabrini Green on October 22 were young Black men and women from the projects--who are treated like criminals whenever they step out of their homes. Several of them talked to the RW about what happened.

For 50 minutes, the cops threatened and insulted the crowd. Meanwhile, more and more cops were pulling up. Their excuse? That there had been some "gang activity" --they said--and they were looking for suspects. They said that "it was dangerous" to allow all these young men to gather in one spot.

People told the RW that these cops clearly hated the fact that people from the projects were going downtown to protest police brutality. "They didn't say it, but you could see it. They implied it."

The cops who brutalized the Cabrini resisters are well-known and hated. The men from Cabrini called out two police by name--"Big Nose" and "White Lightening"--telling how they swaggered around by the busses that day insulting and threatening people. One brother said "They're like Ku Klux Klan with badges in these projects. They hate Black people."

Another added: "This is basically what cops like those do. They harass the neighborhood. This is on a daily basis. This is not just some rash coincidence that just now happened. What happens is they come every day and every night. And they harass the whole neighborhood." The cops call it "mob action" whenever people hang out in a group. "They ride up real fast and if you don't run they'll tell you, you shoulda ran. And if you do run they say that shows you guilty of something." Several people said these cops routinely beat people and rob them--taking their money and car keys--and, often, planting drugs on people they want to lock up.

On October 22, these same brutalizing police wanted to stop young brothers and sisters of the projects from hooking up with the nationwide movement. But one brother said, "You can't let them scare you. They're brutalizing us and then they're trying to intimidate us not to tell about it."

A young man said: "We tired of being treated like this. Somebody's got to stand up to it. And it might as well be us or it'd be our grandkids trying to fight their way out."

As the cops finally left the gathering site, taking three young men with them under arrest, a woman got on the microphone, outraged, and challenged the crowd. She said, "Do you see what they are doing? You can't let this stop you. We've got to get on the buses."

One brother proudly pointed to more than 30 people from Cabrini who were there at the rally. "We're the strong-hearted ones," he said--the ones who made their way to the downtown rally, despite the threats of cops and guns.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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