Video for the documentary "Voices of Cabrini." Shot between 1995-1999, it documented the Cabrini Green redevelopment project proposed and carried out by the city of Chicago. In this tape, resident Mark Pratt gives a brief history of Cabrini Green. He talks about his family, growing up in Cabrini, security issues, future hopes to become a homeowner, living in Cabrini, and Cabrini demolition. The Pratt children talk about living in Cabrini Green, hopes for the future, hobbies, and daily happenings. The family is interviewed inside their home in Cabrini.
00:04Copy video clip URL Open to shot of focus test card and Director Ronit Bezalel doing a sound check.
0:46Copy video clip URL Shot of Mark Pratt nodding his head. Crew prepares for the interview.
1:38 Bezalel: “Could you give us a brief history of Cabrini…?” Pratt: “Cabrini actually started being built in the 1940s, right after the veterans returned from the war…” Pratt connects the building of Cabrini’s row housing to the boom of suburban communities. He covers the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s, and also talks about the original “Little Hell” that Cabrini was built on.
4:34 Bezalel: “How did your grandmother move here…?” Pratt: “My grandmother is from Mississippi and she came up north with my grandfather, who was a war veteran…and they decided to move to Chicago…” His grandmother bought a house on North Avenue and, in the ’60s, lost the house due to property tax increases. In 1970 she moved to Cabrini.
5:22 Bezalel goes over Pratt’s grandmother’s chronology again for confirmation. Pratt: “My grandmother moved in with the entire family, actually…” He discusses the movement of his mother and her siblings within the building. He also describes his first reactions to riding an elevator.
7:10Copy video clip URL One of Pratt’s children can be heard behind the scene rummaging around the kitchen.
8:10Copy video clip URL They continue the interview. Pratt talks about playing a game, Lights Out-Punch Out, in the elevator.
9:22 Bezalel: “Have any of these traditions carried on…?” Pratt: “Yes, what we call rip cord…” This was a game where, if you didn’t like a person, you would wait until they needed to use the elevator (when carrying groceries, for example) and shut down the elevator. Similarly, if you needed a couple bucks you could shut down the elevator and help people carry their groceries up the stairs.
10:51Copy video clip URL During their discussion of the old elevators in Cabrini, the telephone rings and interrupts them. After the ringing ends, Pratt describes how in the cold or during a rain storm the motors of the elevators seize up.
12:07 Bezalel: “Is it true that gangs would sometimes charge money to get on the elevator…?” Pratt: “That was a myth…” The myth originated in the Palace, but Pratt maintains that it is a myth because of the extensive kinship ties between residents: “How can you charge your own family money?” Pratt mentions that the police would “sweep” the community from time to time, checking-in on residents.
13:46 Bezalel: “…each building has a name. Can you talk about the origins…?” Pratt: “They primarily come from the ’60s…because of the different gangs that were developing then.” Pratt lives in “HQ” (Headquarters), the gang leaders lived in The Castle, 500-502 Oak was called Lord, for the Vice Lords, 1150-1160 building is called Cobra, since the Egyptian Cobras lived there. The building and gang names originated together.
15:00 Bezalel asks why Pratt’s building is called Headquarters. Pratt: “It’s just a way to identify what group of disciples you’re with: Headquarters Boulevard, 6-9, White Walls, Crazy Crew, Wild End.
16:29Copy video clip URL Cameraman asks Pratt to elaborate on the gang sweeps. Pratt: “The sweeps were devised by Chairmen Vince Lane in 1987 and implemented for the first time, I believe, in the summer of 1988. And what it’s comprised of, first of all, the nickname, ‘Operation Clean Sweep,’ is actually a military term used during the Vietnam War on how they went into villages and cleared out the Viet Cong…and Operation Clean Sweep here, in CHA terms, means the building is surrounded by Chicago police…” Pratt talks about the ACLU’s advocacy for Cabrini residents against the CPD and CHA, and how, after the shooting of Dantrell Davis in 1992, Cabrini was put on “lock down.” Pratt says the sweeps were ineffective and demoralizing–he was searched nine times and his two year old son was searched twice. He goes on to describe how children had to be walk through metal detectors and be searched in order to come home from school.
20:23 Bezalel: “How long did they sweep this building for?” Pratt: “It took two weeks to sweep this development; it took one day to sweep this building…” He details how, during a search, residents were told to leave their homes, go to a processing center, obtain an ID, and then return back to their homes with formal clearance. Pratt: “It’s really horrible…to watch that…you become a prisoner in your own home.”
21:54Copy video clip URL Pratt: “If you use terms like ‘Operation Clean Sweep’ and ‘lock down’ and then you put up bars and gates that pretty much emulate what prison society is–to me, you’re training younger kids and older people as well to accept prison life. Therefore, when a kid is locked up who is from a CHA development, it’s not much different from what he’s already grown up in. So, now prison, as well as home, become one and the same, and once he’s out…he doesn’t ‘adapt’ to society…he regresses back to doing the things he was doing before, because now, if I’m going to prison, I can deal with it. Prison is supposed to be hard and it’s supposed to make you not want to come back, but when he leaves prison and comes home it’s the same type of environment…he becomes accustomed to it.”
23:00 Bezalel: “What does the word ‘home’ mean to you?” Pratt: “Safe, securing, loving. Not just a place to lay my head at night, but I place I can come to kick off my shoes and feel comfortable in, invite friends over, something that belongs to me…my own private Idaho.”
23:31 Bezalel: “What do you do to keep your home safe and inviting…?” Pratt: “I’m not big on decorations…I think it really boils down to the attitude and the way you organize things…” He describes his children’s weekday and weekend schedules. Pratt’s wife enters and they chat. The interview stops while the crew decides on the next series of questions.
27:33 Bezalel: “Do you think they’re going to tear down your building? If so, where will you go?” Pratt: “I know eventually they will tear down this building as well.” Someone knocks on the door and they pause the interview.
29:00Copy video clip URL Pan to the two women who entered the apartment. When the camera spots them they quickly leave. Pan back to Pratt. Good shot of the interior of Pratt’s apartment.
29:36 Bezalel: “Where will you move?” Pratt: “Hopefully, when it’s time to move, I hope to have the opportunity to move where I want to move to. I don’t want a certificate or a voucher…” Pratt describes his frustration with CHA and his hope to never live in CHA housing again.
30:59Copy video clip URL Poor audio of Pratt talking about his love of helping people. Shots of the interior of his apartment. Cameraman pans from a poster of Malcolm X to Pratt.
34:21Copy video clip URL Shots from the hallway of the different bedrooms in the apartment. Video of his sons’ bedroom (two bunk beds) and his daughters’ bedroom (two twin beds).
36:39Copy video clip URL Pratt’s children in front of their Christmas tree. Bezalel explains how the microphone functions.
40:21Copy video clip URL The children introduce themselves, their ages, and their schools.
45:56Copy video clip URL The children talk about their Christmas plans and what they hope to receive.
50:14Copy video clip URL Uncle Sean enters the apartment.
51:44Copy video clip URL Trevonte Pratt describes their daily routines and friendships in Cabrini.
55:13Copy video clip URL Marquisa talks about what they do on weekends. She wants to be a “drawer” when she grows up.
57:17 Bezalel asks Marquisa about her reactions to seeing the first building get demolished. Marquisa: “I didn’t know they’re tearing it down for a reason, and I wanted to know why they were tearing it down…my teacher told me they were tearing it down cause it’s old…”
58:07Copy video clip URL Bezalel: “Did you know anyone living in them?” Marquisa: “Actually, so far, I know one person who lived in there from the center…” Marquisa does not know where her friend moved afterward.
58:44Copy video clip URL Bezalel asks the younger children about their reactions to the demolition. They do not know and are very camera shy. Mark Jr. and Martae have a hard time answering any of Bezalel’s questions.
1:00:40Copy video clip URL Cameraman confirms with the children that demolition proceeds when they are in school and that the demolition noise is disruptive to class. Trevonte and Marquisa talk about the noise and the dust.
1:02:36Copy video clip URL Cameraman asks whether they like seeing it get torn down. Video and audio cut out.
1:02:50Copy video clip URL End of tape.