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Cabrini-Green Residents Say Goodbye

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Young people in the Cabrini Connections Marching Band. Photo by Quintana Woodridge

Demolition started today, March 30, 2011 on the last high-rise building standing in the Cabrini-Green public housing development.

Former residents gathered to say their goodbyes to the last visual proof that life and memories were created on the grounds of the building at 1230 N. Burling Ave. Former and present residents gathered in the vacant lot adjacent to the building sharing memories and their thoughts on the art project that was created to commemorate the high-rises – LED lights were placed in the Burling building’s 134 apartments by Jan Tichy, a professor at the Art Institute of Chicago. Many of those gathered in front of the building talked about the proposed Target Store that may be built on the property where the building currently stands.

There were various views on the store potentially replacing the high-rise. Reginald Grant, a former resident of Cabrini-Green who founded the mentoring organization 100 Men Standing, came back to guide young men and women in the Near North community.

“I see the lights blinking,” Grant said. “It’s a good change from the lights we use to see. It was thunder behind the lights we used to see blinking.”

He went on to say that the building’s demolition is progress. “It’s a lot of sad memories over here and sometimes people want to forget those memories. I could never forget the community because the community is the people,” Grant said.

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Bronzeville Residents Aim for Police Substation on 47th Street

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Bolstered by the results of a vote conducted during the recent citywide election, Chicago residents of the 3rd and 4th wards are expressing “a strong desire” for a police substation on 47th Street, according to a local resident group in the South Side’s historic Bronzeville community.

Young professionals from the Concerned Citizens of Bronzeville stated in a press release last month that the small stretch between the Green and Red CTA lines is now “unrecognizable” compared to its heyday when jazz legends like Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong frequented lavish night clubs along 47th Street.

The area “is filled with debris, used needles and condoms, illicit narcotic activity, rampant public drinking and urination,” the group stated.

This vacant lot, located in the 4700 block of South Prairie Avenue, is among one of those Concerned Citizens of Bronzeville suggest be the site of a sub-police station as a deterrent to crime and loitering in the area. Photo by Mary C. Johns

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Torture Victim Reflects on Burge Sentence

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The 4 ½ -year sentence handed down to former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge recently for federal crimes of lying and obstructing justice did not sit well with a lot of people, including Mark Clements, who is one of those tortured by detectives under Burge’s command.

This protester was among the many encouraging Mayor Daley to take part in jailing former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge, and to go after Detectives under his watch accused of torturing murder suspects in their custody in the 1970 and 1980s, during a rally outside City Hall in May 2010. Photo by Mary C. Johns

“It was outrageous,” Clements declared to Residents’ Journal during a phone interview on Jan. 25, a few days after the sentencing. “It was a smack in the face to the African American community concerning what Mr. Burge did.”

Clements, a longtime advocate to jail Burge, was tortured in June 1981, when he was 16 years old.

Burge, 63, was sentenced Jan. 21 to serve 4 ½ years in a federal prison for lying in a federal civil trial about torture committed against more than 100 African American men and women at Area 2 and 3 Police Headquarters in the 1970s and 1980s. The torture victims were murder suspects in police custody. Burge was fired as police commander in 1993.

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Emanuel’s Anti-Crime Plan for Chicago if elected Mayor

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Chicago mayoral contender Rahm Emanuel recently introduced his plan to “put more police on the beat, and keep kids, guns and drugs off the street.”

Emanuel’s anti-crime agenda includes adding 1,000 new cops to the neighborhoods that need them most without pulling them from other parts of the city. He intends to fund this initiative with the use of $25 million of “excess” Tax Increment Financing or TIF money.

A police officer holds a touting sign of current Mayor Richard M. Daley, during a police protest outside the Chicago Police Headquarters, to oust their boss, Superintendent Jody Weis, on September 19, 2010. Photo by Mary C. Johns

Emanuel’s plan also would add 250 new cops on the streets over a three-year period.

Emanuel claims that he will also cut bureaucracy, crack down on abuse of police sick leave—by “medical abusers” who earn full pay but leave fighting crime to their colleagues—and expand the Chicago Police Cadet program to get uniformed officers who are working desk jobs back on the street.

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Residents’ Journal Reporters Share Results of Youth Surveys

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Click on the image to view the third episode of this season’s “RJ TV,” on August 2, 2010.

Watch Residents’ Journal Youth Project Director Quintana Woodridge’s discussion with RJ young adult reporter Jasmine Hunt about participation in the Chicago Youth Voices Network’s “Nuf SAID” project, where Hunt and other youth reporters surveyed their peers across the city of Chicago in March 2010, about issues of education, crime, violence, health and the environment, housing and homelessness, jobs and employment issues.

The two RJ reporters also discussed Hunt’s scheduled interview with 3rd Ward Ald. Pat Dowell regarding pollution, an upcoming article on school violence by another youth reporter, and they also discussed a “Youth Truth” video produced by the Nuf SAID group in July 2010.

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RJ Reporter talking about Youth Media Project

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Click on the image to view the second episode of this season’s “RJ TV,” on July 19, 2010.

Watch Residents’ Journal Youth Project Director Quintana Woodridge report the statistics, results, and plans of recent surveys our youth reporters and others in the Chicago Youth Voices Network’s “Nuf-SAID” project done in March 2010, on Chicago low-income area youth perspectives regarding crime, violence, education, health and the environment, housing and homelessness, jobs and employment issues.

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Deadly Moves II

by  Editor-in-Chief

In Deadly Moves, a series of articles produced by Residents Journal and the Chicago Reporter magazine in the fall of 2004, a year long investigation found that the murder rate increased in public housing developments and areas where CHA residents had been relocated across the city under the Chicago Housing Authoritys $1.6 billion Plan for Transformation. The articles appeared simultaneously in both publications and resulted in a new police pilot program.

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Drug War Diagnosis

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Those who think the war on drugs is working had better visit the front lines.

The relocation of public housing residents has contributed to making Chicago’s murder rate the highest in the nation, according to a professor who has spent years working on the city’s policing programs.

Art Lurigio, a psychologist who is chairman of DePaul University’s Criminal Justice Department, said that the way the CHA is relocating residents is raising the murder rate in the city. Read more »

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Stop The Violence

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I covered the recent trial of the man accused of raping Girl X in room 400 of the federal court building downtown.

Girl X, now 14, was assaulted, raped and given some type of poison in a Cabrini-Green hallway in 1997. This incident left the girl mentally damaged and blind. She was marked with gang signs on her stomach.

Most of the time, the courtroom only had reporters present in the audience as the trial went on. The girl herself was in the courtroom. During the cross-examination, the girl was urged to answer questions by the attorneys. Though she was able to give them the information, I had a doubt in my mind whether or not the girl actually knew what was going on. Read more »

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Stop The Violence

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There are a number of cases currently in the courts that involve Chicago police officers who are being accused of corrupt involvement with street gang members.

On Feb. 14, I went to court to see the arraignment of William M. Patterson. He was one of the officers caught in the federal sting that centered around the Robert Taylor Homes and the Ida B. Wells housing complexes last week. The court procedure was to determine if the case would go to trial. The judge said that the indictment would stand.

Patterson was charged with several counts of drug offenses, including conspiracy to possess and distribute narcotics. The arraignment of Patterson’s partner, Daryl L. Smith, called “Smitty,” was handled on a different day and time. According to the court testimony, federal investigators caught on videotape two teams of policemen robbing drug dealers. Read more »

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