Up Against the Cops in Cabrini Green

Revolutionary Worker #1174, November 10, 2002, posted at

On Wednesday, October 30, over 200 residents of Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing projects marched to demand justice for Michael Walker. Known as "Jappa D" to most of his friends, Michael was a 21-year-old resident of Cabrini who was killed by police on Sunday, October 27. Walker is the thirtieth person in the greater Chicago area killed by law enforcement since 9/11/01.

Police claimed that Michael Walker was selling drugs and that he ran away from a cop. According to the police version of events, the cop's gun went off "by accident" during a scuffle and killed Michael.

Like in many other stories of police brutality and murder, the people tell it differently from the police. Cabrini-Green residents say that Michael was a victim of a brutal cop that had a vendetta against him. The cop had earlier arrested Michael, and he was angry that Michael had gotten out on bond. The people say that this cop repeatedly pistol-whipped Michael before shooting him in the face in cold blood. Then, the police left his body out in the building's breezeway for hours, in a show of cruel disrespect and intimidation.

The police refuse to release the name of this killer cop. But it has come out that he was transferred to Cabrini-Green after shooting someone in the head on Chicago's West Side in April 2001.

At the protest, which was initiated by the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, people testified to the unjust sweeps, beatings and heavy police clampdown that's going on in the neighborhood as the city presses ahead with its plan to destroy public housing. Some people called it "martial law" and "police state."

A representative of the Stolen Lives Project offered condolences to the family and led the crowd in the Stolen Lives Pledge: "I, _______________, pledge that the life and humanity of these Stolen Lives will not be forgotten. I pledge that their highest hopes and aspirations will live on in us and that I will seek justice for these and all the Stolen Lives. In this way I pledge that their memory will stay alive in us and will inspire us to fight for justice and a better world."

Friends described Jappa as an easy-going guy who never carried a gun. Someone got on the bullhorn and said, "A lot of young men have to deal drugs, but it's because they're forced to in order to provide for their families." The point was also made that dealing drugs is not a death-penalty offense.

The march went from building to building, calling out more support along the way. Most of those who came out to join were youth from the neighborhood and parents with kids. People chanted "No justice! No peace!", "Jail the killer cops!" and "No more stolen lives." The spirited march stopped at two police stations: a mini-station located right inside one of the Cabrini buildings and the new station at the nearby intersection of Division and Larrabee. This new police station illustrates the way in which police terror is being used to drive people out of Cabrini-Green. One of the buildings across from the new police station has already been emptied, and the building that Michael was killed in is also being targeted for "people removal" and demolition.

During the last major wave of "people removal" and building demolition in Cabrini- Green in 1998, the police killed three people: Michael Russell, Leroy Reed, and Brennan King. After police killed Michael Russell, they went through the building he lived in and told people that if they didn't move out, they would "do them" like they did Michael. The police are trying to send the same message again, but the people of Cabrini-Green are sending back a message of resistance.

Toward the end of the march, heading back to the starting point, people took to the streets. They briefly took over the intersection outside the new police station, blocking traffic. There was a tense stand- off with the police. Many youth refused to give up the streets. The police beat and arrested a 12-year-old. Some bottles and bricks were thrown at the police.

A police commander claimed that the protesters were "walking through the development, inciting the teens." Tobe, a member of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, told the Chicago Tribune , "We say, `Justice for Michael Walker, and justice for killer cops.' We don't consider that to be incendiary. As you can see, it was something the community was behind."

At press time, a second march had been called for Sunday, November 3, to demand justice for Michael Walker.

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