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Holiday In Chicago

"The record indisputably establishes that Chicago's red squad for at least a decade engaged in a campaign of guerrilla warfare against substantial sectors of the city's population. What unifies and explains the operation of the security section is an institutionalized aggression, unique in the annals of any American city."

- Frank Donner, Chapter Four, "Chicago: The National Capital of Police Repression," Protectors of Privilege: Red Squads and Police Repression in Urban America

Windyshitty.

Friends still in jail, charged with "terrorism" for considering the possibility of trying to defend people from police brutality. The judge wonders out loud whether "it's really necessary that we even define terrorism." He laughs at the defense's motion to subpoena the creature called mayor, enemy of the man on the street, the fuck who ordered my friends disappeared. Last week an apocalyptic arctic hurricane froze the city and the heartless fuck went on a tropical vacation. In the past, Chicago's leaders were judged by how well they took care of people when the blizzards came, but it was way the fuck below zero and the psycho absentee mayor this city elected is sunbathing on the opposite side of the planet. Cook County froze at least 14 homeless people to death so far this winter. My friends sleep behind cell walls coated by an inch of ice.

The air warmed up; water pipes mostly thawed out. Before more rain and freezing, I sat on an 18th Street stoop near the Pink Line watching rich-looking white men double-park big black vehicles inscribed with words like "SUBURBAN" and "ESCAPE" in front of a building that a few Mexican men were gutting and rehabbing. The white guys walked around like they were afraid of scuffing their shoes; wore nervous, greedy smiles and inspected the building with unfamiliarity and a thin veneer of control that relates pimps to whores. A soccer team's worth of sweating men are still serving the same pizza with a side of jalapenos at that venerable gangbanger-, workingstiff-, cop-, hipster-, and family-frequented establishment, Benny's #2 ("Real Chicago Pizza, Real Wisconsin Cheese!"), but a slice costs twice what it did four years ago. Gentrification is a sequence of strategically deployed inflation processes reflecting, and reflected by, public policies of neglect and reinvestment. "Zoning control, building inspections, tax increment financing districts, school closings, gifts of city land and money to developers" . . . even for communities that "survived the long winter of political neglect," the city waits ready to administer death by a thousand cuts.

A yellowing piece of paper, taped to the east wall of courtroom 606 at the Cook County Criminal Court, shouts: "NO CHILDREN ARE ALLOWED IN THE COURTHOUSE."

Rising rents. Expensive restaurants multiplying. A building that was an after-school refuge for neighborhood kids - it included classrooms, computer labs, the neighborhood radio station, a library and a magical basement perpetually stocked with art supplies - hides behind newly tinted and curtained windows, all signs of life stripped away, the old exhibit space apparently rented to some kind of upscale retailer of fashionable pants. I hear that the alderdroid of this ward (not this neighborhood, mind you - city government here has always and only ever "represented" a gerrymandered jigsaw city of wards totally disconnected from communities or neighborhoods), who happens to be slimiest zombie of the city council, commandeered the building for his personal office. This same creature, Solis, owes his office, in no small way, to the same judge Thaddeus Wilson who will sentence my friends on February 28th.

Everywhere police, cameras, screens, advertisements. Mass self-policing, "the law" skullfucking everyone always. Someone finally began work on a documentary about the well-known history of police torture here and detectives literally ass-raped him with a gun, laughing, until he agreed to cooperate with a drug bust. This city is a jail.

A small brown plaque on the wall at the Cook County courthouse announces in white Helvetica: "NO SMOKING, EATING CHILDREN, OR RADIO PLAYING." The roads around CCJ are still being torn apart by giant machines, jamming the traffic, preparing anyone summoned to court for the frustrations that wait for them if only they can navigate the maze of continually crushing, bulldozing, rockloading, huge-concrete-pipe-placing machinery.

Maybe you want to right the wrongs, little by little, or with one big 'movement.' maybe this place is your home, all you know. Or maybe you're coming from an even more completely fucked urban disaster and when Chicago belches at you, forehead veins bulging, "FUCK YOU SHUT UP," you hear a challenge to which you're tempted to rise. Maybe you see hope in the small ways people cope and tolerate the bullshit and you try to extrapolate the feng shui of this titanic's deck chairs, scale them up to a grandiose inner peace, distill it into a jaded junk of serenity. Probably not.

"Today at the Cook County Jail, 57% of pre-bond detainees self-identified as mentally ill. 49% of men; 89% of females."

A documentary features young men rapping about the violence that surrounds them. A couple of them are shot dead before filming is even finished. The doc explains that Chi-town was renamed Chiraq after the murder rate here exceeded the murder rate in Iraq during the war- queue 2pac, comparing the war in "the streets" to war in the Middle East, etc., credits. Hit the lights. Look around, remember the audience. What did we learn about domestic violence here? From the youngest 12-year-old rapper to the oldest in his thirties, a common theme: this is all we know, but we can escape if we hustle up enough money. It can be hard to for a victim to recognize an abusive relationship, so I'm here to tell you, Chicagoans, you're all non-consensually balls deep in a citywide cycle of domestic violence begging for a Kill Bill-style resolution.

"The rates of PTSD we see are as high or higher than Iraq, Afghanistan or Vietnam veterans. We have a whole population who is traumatized."

Crowds of warriors, laborers, ordinary men, victorious and defeated, children, gods and goddesses - they guard the streets of Pilsen, still and fazed by the elements, from the sides of apartments, underpasses, factories, alleys, doorways. generations of Mexican struggle, stretching from Incans and conquistadors to Zapatistas. Innumerable Zapatas, Villas, and Guevaras. They brandish pistols, swords and rifles. The walls depict the struggle of border crossings; women carrying babies across the Rio Grande, men stuck in barbed wire, proclamations desperately attempting to convince the subconscious passerby that "No Human Being IS ILLEGAL." The two-dimensional crowds listen carefully and hear everything:

     Freight cars full of coal and oil slowrolling over the viaducts, squeaking, tottering, straining the integrity of the ancient tracks, thudding over the loose tracks with a sound so low-frequency and barely audible that it hypnotizes everyone and their pulse;

     Wind resonating signposts rocking between three or four positions with corresponding consequent frequencies, depending on direction and speed of the gusts, ever loosening their broken cement foundations. They hold metal placards that inform readers: "Unattended non-portable items will be discarded by the order of the City of Chicago pursuant to LOVE VS CITY OF CHICAGO" (emphasis NOT mine; the sign refers to the city's penchant for stealing from homeless people, lending credence to imprisoned perpetual presidential candidate Sean Swain's proposal to arm the homeless);

     Jet engine noise falls from the constantly cloudy sky which just barely sometimes shows the glow of the full moon, which Frida wishes she could see, but a four-story building blocks her view. Some moonbeams grace the still relatively fresh portrait of a young man who was shot dead here - he has a great view of the waxing crescent and squints his eyes, smiling, knowingly.

In the alley, snow slowly and quietly covers a pigeon's wings and spinal cord. The steaming top of the Sears Tower, or whatever it's called, that place from which the eye of Sauron, glazed over by a timeless cynicism, jaded by millions of sacrificed souls, observes the suffering of the undramatic, overly matter-of-factly masses of bankers, forklift drivers, police officers, lawyers, janitors, teachers, beggars, reporters, bureaucrats, pipefitters, firefighters, bricklayers, bakers, metal scrappers, truck drivers, drug dealers, auto mechanics, cab drivers, school teachers, the many faces of General Population. The cops and the robbers, fascists and anarchists, prisoners and prosecutors, buyers and sellers, voters and representatives, they all read the same "FUCK YOU SHUT UP" in each other's eyes, passing on the street.

Between the hermetically sealed original U.S. Constitution and an audience of "human rights advocates" the president stands in an electric aura of newspeak, dropping clues about what to expect from that beastly, prolific incarcerator, the U.S. government. He's been working on "a new legal basis" for an exciting new flavor of national security that he likes to call preventative detainment. Existing as-yet-barely tasted state terrorism laws will be merely side dishes to this "new legal basis." U.S. detainment infrastructures across the nation, and abroad, piss themselves with adoration for the president's daring, flooding their poorly constructed foundations. Mercenaries, in-the-know investors and private prison contractors jump for incarceral joy. Behind many walls, sightlines, fences, strips of barbed wire, cameras, and above all, behind bars, in a place called Menard, men called "corrections officers" administer brutal beatings to much less fortunate men called "prisoners," because they refuse to eat. Everyone at Menard is too busy to listen to the president's news.

"At fast scales, economic and political interests exploit environmental resources through a maze of environmental management and resistance . . . At intermediate scales, managers become slaved to economic and political interests, which adapt to and repress resistance, and resistance is guided by patterns of environmental destruction. At slow scales, resistance interacts with the cultural context, which co-evolves with the environment. The transition from unstable dynamics to sustainability is sensitively dependent on the level of participation in and repression of resistance."

Underground at the Cook County Jail, three men lie mostly sleepless behind bars, contemplating their ongoing trial, occasionally yielding to dreams of revenge they will tell no one. Nearly two years ago they were snatched by group of aggressive, demented, small-minded men with sidearms and shotguns. This strange group of people-snatching, large men with sidearms and shotguns were afraid of what would happen if people knew what they did. So they told no one. The three men's friends couldn't find them that night, and saw lots of the people-snatchers in their neighborhood and became concerned. But when the friends asked the people-snatchers if it they knew where their friends were, the people-snatchers, just said, "No, I haven't seen your friends. Stop bothering me or I'll snatch you up!" Finally, days later, the people-snatching men with guns admitted that, yes, they had barged into an apartment in the middle of the night, kidnapped everyone present, threatened neighbors, took everything they wanted and destroyed everything else. Nobody who gets snatched ever forgets it.

Brent Betterly, Brian Church and Jarod Chase were acquitted of all terrorism charges on February 7, 2014. These charges in particular were the state's excuse for having confined the three in jail since May 2012 on $1.5 million bond they couldn't possibly raise. They were found guilty of two counts of possession of an incendiary device, a charge supported only by undercover police testimony - by officers who also allege that they themselves were in possession of the "devices" the entire time. In four days, my friends will learn their further punishment for that.

-

Comments welcome.



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Posted on February 24, 2014


MUSIC - The Week In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - Trailer: Swing District.
SPORTS - Ryan Pace's Narratives Are Killing Us.

BOOKS - Chicago For Dummies.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - The Sears Motor Buggy.


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