It’s Not OK to Corral at Cabrini

by  Assistant Editor

“Gun Smoke” doesn’t have anything on Cabrini-Green this summer. On June 13, gunslingers dueled in the streets and sheriffs tried to restore order in the North Side development.

On that day, two men were killed and one was left in critical condition. A 14-year-old girl suffered a grazing wound to her thigh. The two young men who were killed were not residents of Cabrini-Green, according to numerous residents who I interviewed.

The four victims included three men in their late 20s, plus the little girl who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was scraped by a bullet.

Many of the residents said they believe that somebody tried to rob some local drug dealers, who responded with armed force. Chicago Police officers at the scene agreed. The officers said they believe these shootings may be drug- and gang-related but are not sure.

In the meantime, an emergency meeting was called by Marvin and Marice Edwards, twins who manage the high rises in the Cabrini Green development. The meeting took place at 1230 North Larrabee, on Friday, June 14. The room was packed like a suitcase that’s going overseas, no elbowroom. Wall-to-wall people consumed the small space on the second floor. I stopped counting after 100 people were there.

Commander Charles Williams, who oversees the police department’s public housing unit, said, “We are going to work closely with the residents so that we can resolve this situation. As you well know, many of the violent acts that take place in the developments are perpetrated by non-leaseholders. In the meantime, we will put the buildings under a lock down. Anyone who doesn’t have an ID will not be allowed in the buildings.”

One resident shouted out, “What about our children? Most of them don’t have an ID.”

After hearing that statement, Williams said children without identification will be escorted to their apartments. At this point in the meeting, a young man in his early twenties screamed out, “You’re going to let them lock you up like criminals.You didn’t do the killing. Someone else did but yet you’re going to do hard time for it. “So that would mean if I came to see my ailling grandmother, since I don’t have an ID, I couldn’t get in. That’s bull s—. ‘There have been many killings that have taken place in Cabrini. Why are these killings any different? I’ll tell you why. Because it just means that this is just a way of the city getting closer to taking your all homes.”

A few of the residents agreed with the young man by showing a nod of their heads. A few mumbled underneath their breath that the young man was a drug dealer who just wanted the buildings to stay open so that he could continue to sell his drugs freely.

Diedre Matthews, a member of the Coalition to Protect Public Housing, said, “If that means saving people’s lives, I agree. Lock the buildings down.”

Lashanda Gates, a resident of Cabrini for 4 years, said, “I agree with the Commander. If you have to lock them down to save lives, do it.” Gates continued, “But the city should help us get out of here by giving us Section 8s. The only way to stop the madness is if they close them down.”

A 54-year-old resident named Isabella Malone was very upset by some residents’ reaction to Commander Williams’ comments. She said, “The residents disrespected the commander and the families that lost their love ones.” Malone continued, “After all, he’s trying to save their lives.”

But another resident agreed with those who criticized Commander Williams. “Why should we have to suffer for the actions of a few? We don’t want to be locked down,” this resident said. Chicago Housing Authority spokesperson Derek Hill said, “Whatever it takes to keep our residents safe is what we will do.”

That week, the whole development was locked down, just as the police commander promised. Each resident had to show their IDs and those who didn’t have IDs had to have residents with IDs prove they live there.

On June 29, two young men were arrested for the first shooting and another one was being sought. A police source said the original incident was not gang related. The shootings resulted from a personal argument.

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