Struggle Continues to Save Chicago Brigade House

Revolutionary Worker #984, November 29, 1998

"[City Attorney] Siegan said the communist group's holdout has set the Cabrini-Green redevelopment project back four months."

Chicago Tribune, November 17

"The fight to save this house has become a way people are taking on the oppressor now--not letting them just beat everyone down and drive everyone out."

A.K. Small,
Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade

On Tuesday, November 17, an article in the Chicago Tribune carried the headline "City Loses Early Round in Cabrini 3-Flat Fight." That same morning A.K. Small was interviewed on the Mancow show, a morning radio show syndicated in eight states. The day before, the city of Chicago had gone to court intending to get an official order to tear down the Chicago RCYB house--but they came out empty-handed.

As regular readers of the RW know, the city of Chicago wants to tear down the Chicago Brigade house--located right next to the Cabrini Green housing projects--as part of what officials call the "revitalization of the area." The Cabrini tenants, housing activists and the RCYB have been fighting against this "ethnic cleansing" of Cabrini Green and the surrounding neighborhood.

At the November 16 hearing, Grant Newburger, one of the people living in the Brigade house, testified about the house's unique historic role in the area. Once the summer home of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, the building now plays an important role as a center of organizing resistance around issues like the destruction of Cabrini Green, police brutality, and Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Dr. Nehemiah Russell, the principal of Cabrini-Green Middle College, also testified for the Brigade house. He said the school had the building earmarked as a site for vocational training for the students at his alternative high school. "It would adequately train the students to get jobs on the Cabrini-Green redevelopment project."

The city's plan was to buy out the RCYB and take possession of the building. The city attorney argued that the only issue for consideration was how much the tenants of the house should be paid for being forced out before the end of the lease. The city offered $2,000. The judge agreed that the issue was money--but ruled that the compensation should be $5,000. But Michael Radzilowsky, the attorney for the RCYB, told the court, "The city could give my clients $100,000--they would turn it down. My clients did not want to turn this into a case about money."

The city argued that they needed to evict the tenants from the house because of pending bids and contracts. But when Radzilowsky demanded documentation, the city attorney could not produce any.

In the end, the judge--looking out over the newspaper reporters and supporters of the Brigade house in the courtroom--ruled that there should be no discussion of the city taking possession of the building until some future hearing. No hearing is set at this time.

The fight to save the Brigade house pits two opposing sides. On one side are the city officials and the real estate speculators who want to tear down Cabrini-Green and drive out the residents in order to carry out "urban cleansing" and to get their hands on this land. On the other side are those who want to stop this assault on the people. As Grant Newburger testified at the hearing, "The house is literally and figuratively in the middle of an issue about the displacement of Black people from the land. It stands in the way of the national model for eliminating public housing and breaking up the communities of the oppressed."

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