Revolution #87, May 6, 2007
Chicago: Armed Government Raid in Heart of Mexican Community: "It was like Nazi Germany"
We received the following correspondence from Chicago:
Tuesday, April 24. Little Village, on 26th Street, in the heart of the large Mexican community in Chicago. A local tattoo artist who works in the mall told Revolution what happened:
“They came in with major shit, shot guns and automatic weapons, 15 cops in riot gear, came in with all this shit. They shut the entire mall down, closed the exits, but what they did before that is they were filming for a period of time, everyone shopping. And then they locked it down while everyone was still in there shopping. Then there was a panic that set in among people. They had these pictures and they were profiling every single person who was in the mall looking for people who made IDs or who bought IDs. And they had photographs. They were going into all the crevices of the stores in the mall trying to fish for people.”
The is a scene that is becoming much too commonplace: people are shopping, eating, and hanging out on a main strip in the heart of a Latino community in the United States--and suddenly, swarms of federal law enforcement agents move in, hold people at gunpoint, and take people away. Their families may not see them again. Children separated from their parents.
Another witness described what happened in a health clinic during the raid in Little Village. They said that women were sitting in the waiting room, with their children climbing around. Then all of a sudden, armed federal agents came in, yelling at people, terrifying everyone. Then people from all over the shopping center who were not carrying ID's were detained outside and questioned. News reports said that federal warrants were issued against 22 people, 12 of whom have been arrested so far.These kind of raids have been happening all over the country. And it is very significant that a raid like this has happened in Chicago, which was a major epicenter of the massive upsurge of marches for immigrants rights last year.
As the raid in Little Village continued with people being locked in the mall, frustration and fear, for many, gave way to anger. The tattoo artist described how he had never seen the look in people’s eyes that he did that day. He recounted how one older immigrant woman was yelling at the FBI about how unjust this was and that they were going to deport everyone. An FBI agent threatened to arrest her too if she didn't shut up.
People were calling their families and friends, who raced to the scene from all over the city. At a certain point, people started pouring out of the mall and on to 26th Street in a very defiant march of protest and resistance. There were 300 or more people in the streets and the authorities
were forced to shut down traffic. Activists, clergy and organizers of the immigrants rights May 1st demonstration also joined the protest, calling for an end to the raids and round-ups, and the terrorization of whole communities.
One person told Revolution : “It was like Nazi Germany and they just raided the houses down the street and they’re coming for you next. People were responding with that kind of desperation. People were forced to act. They started to march, marching through the streets of the neighborhood chanting.” People stayed in the streets well into the night.
In the days after the raid in Little Village, some people were too terrified to come back to the shopping center or to even leave their homes. People are wondering, are they going to come back today?
The area has been politically very highly charged, both before and after the raid. Many people have been talking about and building for the big May First demonstrations when people all over the country will stand up against the raids and for immigrants' rights. And just in the weeks before the raid, thousands of copies of the special issue of Revolution newspaper about Bob Avakian, “The Crossroads We Face, the Leadership We Need,” were distributed in the shopping center where the raid took place and more broadly in this area.
The courageous response of the people to the raid in Little Village is an important part of new stirrings of resistance and points to the need and potential power of people of all nationalities uniting together, to resist such fascistic attacks and demand a better world.
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