Photo: Chicago Tribune
R.J. and Josephine Harris moved their kids from the projects to Chicago’s North Side in 1970 and have lived happily together in their home for more than 40-years — that all changed August 30.At dawn that morning the police pounded through the Harrises front door detonating smoke grenades, raiding their home on complaints from their wealthy new neighbours.
According to the Chicago Tribune, one neighbour witnessed the scene and described it on her blog:
“I felt like I was on ‘The Wire!’ Fantastic,” … The neighbours hung out near our fence, trying to appear as nonchalant as possible, you know, as if this sort of thing happens every day in Lincoln Park. I watch ‘Breaking Bad,’ yo, I know about meth. I bet they were totally cooking in there.”
But the Harrises weren’t cooking meth and the 40 officers that stormed the home found no evidence of any crimes the neighbours had reported.
They found four dogs, took two away, and cited a couple family members on animal related misdemeanours. Apparently it’s all they could come up with from the dog-fighting, gun, and drug charges leveled by neighbours sick of looking at the Harris’ tired old home.
Among the new mansions lining the street the Harrises home looks dilapidated, but they had never been issued a building code violation until after the raid when they started pouring in.
From the Tribune:
Now the inspector wrote down dozens of infractions, and made another list for an adjacent home where two of the Harris daughters live. Bad wiring, clogged gutters, torn siding, broken plaster, rotting window sashes, unsanitary living conditions.
An emergency order to vacate was issued. And just like that, out of the blue of a summer morning, the Harrises lost their home. “I never seen so much hate build up in one minute,” [a neighbour] says. “For what?”
The neighbours have since taken the raid to make the Harrises feel like outcasts in their neighbourhood and the long-time residents are going to move, they don’t have the energy or the money to mount their defence.
“It’s not the dogs,” [Mrs. Harris] finally said. “It’s not us. They just want this property.”
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