Operartion Clean Sweep | Year In Review | Chicago Reader

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Operartion Clean Sweep

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It was a year when Drug War hysteria had Americans looking for bogeymen under every bed. But not everyone was delighted with the CHA's unannounced raids on Chicagoans living in public housing. Despite cheerleading from our town's daily media, some of the people on the receiving end of the city's grim "crime-busting" adventure told me a different story.

I made these photographs last April 14 at Ogden Courts, at Ogden near California, late in the day one such raid took place. These people told me what they experienced and what had taken place at other CHA communities:

Residents had been photographed and issued ID cards and neck chains. Leases suddenly became sacrosanct; with no warning, people who had made Ogden Courts their home, for years in some cases, were now persona non grata, and had to split. Threats were made. Children arrived home from school with no idea of what was unfolding in front of them. Some people grabbed for clothes, half asleep in the early morning, as CHA security crews barged into apartments looking for the newly illegal. New security guards, fresh out of charm school, harassed women residents; one asked a very pregnant woman "Can I fuck you to death?" I saw a woman weeping; new "visiting hours" made it impossible for her boyfriend to come by. Few of the people I spoke with held much hope that these measures would curb crime or improve life in the projects.

That's Vince Lane there in the topcoat and fedora, wearing the "mission accomplished" look of, well, a victorious landlord.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Loren Santow.

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