Brigaders Arrested in Cabrini Green
Gang Data Base Used for Political Repression
Revolutionary Worker #991, January 24, 1999
On January 6 two supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade (RCYB) were arrested in Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing projects. They were stopped by police while they were distributing the Revolutionary Worker newspaper--which included an article on how the Chicago authorities had been forced to temporarily back down from their plans to demolish the RCYB's house at 1142 North Orleans.
Six cop cars and a police van pulled up to seize the two activists. People in the projects later remarked that the cops were wearing ski-masks--which gave the whole operation a chilling "death squad" feel.
When the Brigaders, Grant and Seven, were released at 4 a.m. the next morning they had each been charged with "disorderly conduct"--and had been issued a bunch of traffic tickets. It was clearly a case of political harassment, intended to send a message.
From the beginning of this police operation, the cops made pointed remarks about revolutionary political activity in the Cabrini-Green neighborhood. A cop named Stevens asked the two activists, "Aren't you from that house with the `Stop Ethnic Cleansing' banner hanging from your building?"
After taking their names, Stevens announced that the police data bank had Grant listed as a "communist"--on his "Gang Card." Stevens then asked Seven if she was a communist too. Sgt. Georges, the cop in charge, then announced that the two activists were going to be arrested and he instructed other cops to list Seven as a "communist" in the police data bank.
One cop issued a thinly veiled threat. "If Hoover and us had done our jobs earlier," he said, "we wouldn't be dealing with these people now." In the 1960s, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover unleashed the infamous COINTELPRO operations to disrupt revolutionary and left organizations through "dirty tricks" and assassination. In Chicago, the notorious "Red Squad" was deeply involved in such operations--and in keeping huge political files on thousands of people. FBI agents and Chicago police teamed up to assassinate Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in his sleep.
In Chicago today, the city authorities are demanding the right to again keep extensive surveillance records on people. They claim that their notorious "Red Squad" abuses are only in the distant past, and that their record-keeping would now only be done to control "gang activity."
However, these arrests in Cabrini show once again that police gang records are already being used to track and target revolutionary activists--by treating "communist" as a "gang affiliation." It shows the close connection that already exists between the so-called "war on gangs" and the system's moves to suppress resistance among oppressed sections of the people.
Another Brigade activist, AK Small, will go on trial in Chicago on February 17 for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest--charges made after AK was targeted by police at a protest of 300 people against official plans to destroy the Black community of Cabrini-Green.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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