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Chicagoist Weekend Theater: Jane Byrne's Easter At Cabrini-Green

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 31, 2013 9:00PM

At its nadir, Cabrini-Green came to symbolize all that was wrong with public housing in America. The final building in the project was razed two years ago but the memories linger even as the neighborhood undergoes gentrification.

In 1981, Mayor Jane Byrne famously responded to criticism of the Chicago Housing Authority's handling of Cabrini-Green by moving into one of the project's apartments. She would move back to her more comfortable environs three weeks later. Many residents of the housing project (correctly) viewed Byrne's move as a stunt intended to deflect criticism away from the scourge of gangs and neglect that were the root of Cabrini-Green's problems.

Byrne had the city produce an Easter celebration on her last day at Cabrini-Green, complete with carnival rides, an Easter egg hunt and a Gospel choir. Residents critical of Byrne decided to stage a protest a short walk away, with predictable results: Police cracked down on the protest and roughly arrested a few of the protestors.

Media Burn Archive's Tom Weinberg, along with Tom Finerty, were there with camera and microphone in tow to capture the melee, which doesn't cast the Police Department in a good light. This is an eight-minute clip from Weinberg and Finerty's video. The full video may be viewed here.

(h/t Chicago Reader)