The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 12, 1976 · Page 75
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 75

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, December 12, 1976
Page 75
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D4-Palm Beach Post-Times, Sunday, December 12, 1976 Black and White Neighborhood Sparks Trouble Ml ' W- UPI Ttltphoto Sign Near Changing Neighborhood Invites Potential Home Sellers To Call remember the realtors as "nice" people who they "wouldn't want to get in trouble." Lillie Brisco was carefully inspecting the seven-room house for sale when she heard the sirens grow louder and the fire trucks screech to a stop outside. The tall, attractive black woman looked for smoke or some sign of a fire. Then it hit her. There was no fire. This was her greeting from the white neighborhood. Mrs. Brisco, a 43-year-old divorcee, had not expected a welcome wagon from the neighbors, but neither had she expected fire trucks. "We knew right then we weren't going to be accepted," she said. Despite the incident, Mrs. Brisco, a shipping clerk who earns $13,500 a year, bought the house and became the first black to move into the area. Mrs. Brisco's 21-year-old son Dexter warned his mother she was asking for problems. But she figured things couldn't be worse than in black West Englewood where her home was robbed four times. She went to M L. Barnes Realty, a black-owned firm, to buy a new house. the Marquette Park area. This is how it worked: Until the first blacks moved in, white realtors sold homes in the area only to whites or Spanish-speaking people. They waited until black realtors sold to the first blacks. Once the change began, dozens of realtors set up offices near the area and concentrated on peddling homes to blacks. They avoided showing homes in the changing area to whites. They offered no listings in nearby white areas to black buyers. Most realtors in the adjacent all-white neighborhood sold no homes to blacks, limiting the selection for blacks to the changing area. The realtors used the Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Administration mortgage insurance programs as tools for re-segregation. They advertised for black FHA and VA buyers and encouraged white sellers to use government mortgage programs, even though it cost more. It is ironic that the white neighbors who peered through their curtains when Mrs. Brisco and the Tur-nipseeds moved into the neat brick bungalows remember them for "breaking the neighborhood," Most From Dl- 'L' Arte I FUUKrtntf Li'iMc orflPltf If!. By GREGORY GORDON and ALBERT SWANSON CHICAGO (UPI) - The small, neat bungalows at the eastern fring of Marquette Park were gaily decked with Christmas lights and holly in December of 1974. For two black families the neighborhood bathed in Yuletide cheer seemed an answer to their dreams for a better place to live an escape from the slum conditions of the South Side of Chicago. "Peace on earth, good will toward men . . ." Then came the firebombs. Before either family could settle into their new homes, there would be terror attacks by whites desperately trying to resist racial change. Civil rights laws had long been in effect, but the promise of open housing would prove to be a myth. The two families were the first blacks to buy homes in a 34-block strip at the edge of the white, ethnic neighborhood of Marquette Park, a sprawling working-class section that separates the inner city from the southwest suburbs. It was only one week before a firebomb sailed through the living room window of Lillian Brisco's new home. Within five days of the arrival of L.B. Turnipseed and his family, nightriders burned their garage. It was the start, of an 18-month battle involving black activists, Nazis and white home owners fearful of neighborhood change. This would be a classic war of racial prejudice and fear, but noncom-batants would decide the outcome. Government policies, banks, insurance companies and the business community would define the battleground. Busy realtors and mortgage investors would reap the bulk of the spoils. Today, less than two years later, half the whites in the 1,100-home area have fled. Many of the remaining white-owned homes are for sale. It is a familiar pattern in Chicago, America's most segregated city. It happens every time a few blacks escape the huge black zone of the South Side and buy homes in the white perimeter. Suddenly the whites are on the run and the fringe Chicago "One of the kids yelled something like, 'you're the one,' or 'here's a whitey,' " Anderson said. "I thought, 'These creeps aren't going to let us out of here for nothing.' I started to pull over and go west and that's when all the bricks started landing on me. I think it was bricks. It was something big and heavy that broke windows. "When the windows started breaking, the kids started screaming. I told my wife to get down." Suddenly a black man stepped out of the bushes. Anderson saw two flashes. "I saw this gun and a guy was shooting at me. I got hit in the shoulder first it was like getting hit with a baseball bat. I knew I was hit. Then I got hit in the neck." Anderson's wife was sitting up trying to keep the children down in the back seat. "That was really her undoing," he said. "This guy came up and he shot right at her and he disappeared. ' What I remember most of him was he was aiming the gun and his whole aspect of his being was concentrating on killing me and killing my wife. You could see how much he wanted to kill us. "And I'd like to reciprocate." Phyllis Anderson died of a single gunshot wound in the head. Leo Anderson lay in critical condition at St. Bernard Hospital when police officer Tom Ptak came to visit. "The first thing the cop told me was, 'You got shot because these black folks got beat up in Marquette Park," said Anderson, his neck and shoulder still bandaged with thick gauze pads. "He said it as a fact." Whether it is a fact, only the killer can ever say for sure. A black construction worker, Mar-rion Logan, 30, was arrested and charged with Mrs. Anderson's murder. Later he was charged with another murder, the killing of a black man one week before the rainstorm. Logan has yet to face trial on either charge. Police found no connection between the killer and the gang of youths who stopped Anderson's car. However, the readiness by police to link the Anderson killing to the racially tense Chicago neighborhood was an indication of what a symbol Marquette Park has become for both blacks and whites. The commander of the Englewood police district, Fred Rice, said soon after the shooting that it "had racial overtones." He called it "a residual effect of the problems we have in Marquette Park." Rice, who is black, said there was an increase in black-on-white crimes in his district following a violent confrontation between black marchers and whites in Marquette Park one week before the Anderson murder. There also was an increase in white-on-black crime in Marquette Park. The night of the rainstorm several blacks were stalled in their cars in flooded areas of Marquette Park and they were beaten by gangs of white youths. Marquette Park is an ethnic, working class neighborhood. Most of the small, modest bungalows wear fresh paint. The narrow, 25-to-30-foot lawns are neatly manicured and bor-deroi. with flowers. area turns solid black. Now the forces of change were taking their toll on the section east of Marquette Park. First, there was disinvestment. Insurance companies, lending institutions and businesses turned away from the area, seeking brighter investments. City services declined, clogged sewers were left unattended, aged street curbs cracked and crumbled and street sweepers and tree trimmers were seldom seen. With the banks and savings and loan companies disinterested, home-buyers turned to the government for mortgage insurance. And with government standards relaxed, buying a home became, as one federal official put it, "easier than buying a new car." Unqualified buyers were strapped to meet mortgage payments. Defaults and foreclosures soared. In the fringe area of Marquette Park more than a dozen homes were abandoned and boarded up, a temptation for vandals and arsonists. The neighborhood was on the way down and the time was right for the realtors to go to work. "A stable neighborhood is not that good for a realtor," said University of Illinois urbanologist Calvin Bradford. But a changing neighborhood means big money. "If you're a really sharp realtor," Bradford said, "you can stay on the crest of the changing movement all the way around the city and the suburbs . . . get lots of sales because there will be that fear which you can keep capitalizing on." Realtors can help make that fear a self-fulfilling prophesy. United Press International examined 300 sales transactions in the area east of Marquette Park, interviewed more than 120 home buyers and sellers and sent white and blacks to 14 real estate offices posing as prospective home buyers. All of the evidence indicates realtors played the biggest role in turning the neighborhood from white to black. Today's methods are more sophisticated than the outlawed "blockbusting" of the past. They include solicitation and advertising campaigns and the tactic called "racial steering," forbidden under the 1962 U.S. Civil Rights Act. Racial steering was widespread in The Marquette Park neighborhood actually is part of the Southwest Chicago Lawn section, but it surrounds Marquette Park, which spreads like a sea of tranquillity not far from the edge of the slum. The. park has a nine-hole golf course, an archery range, a lagoon for canoeing, carefully-maintained ball parks, playgrounds and acres of grass and trees. But Marquette Park has been the scene of tension and violence for more than a decade, first flaring to national attention in 1966 when Martin Luther King, Jr., led open housing marches into the neighborhood. White residents, many of them Lithuanian immigrants who settled in the area after World War II, responded angrily. During a march on August 6, 1966, an angry white hurled a rock that struck King in the head. King said, "I have never seen anything so hateful and hostile as I've seen here today." When local priests spoke out in favor of brotherly love, parishioners responded by putting buttons in the collection plates. One priest found bullet holes in the door of his ch irch. The following summer the late American Nazi party leader, George Lincoln Rockwell, berated blacks at a rally in Marquette Park while hundreds of whites cheered. Blacks were pressing hard then to escape the tight urban ghetto where they had been methodically cornered for 70 years. But each time a few black families bought houses in adjacent all white neighborhoods, the same things happened the whites fled, the business strip vanished and the area soon became an amoebalike extension of the slum. Block by block, new battlegrounds appeared and were wiped away by the blacks' westward push for housing. Rockwell was assassinated in Arlington, Va., in 1967. In 1970, Chica-goan Frank Collin established the national headquarters of the white supremacist National Socialist Nazi Party of America IM blocks from Western Avenue, the eastern border of Marquette Park. They hung a 3-foot sign that read: "Stop the Niggers" and handed out hate literature emblazoned with swastikas. White residents of the area, facing the dilemma of moving away and into more expensive homes or staying to risk violence and declining property values, formed neighborhood groups and determined collectively to draw the line. The resolve tightened as well to the east, in the black community. The Martin Luther King Jr. movement, with headquarters in a warehouse barely 1 mile from Marquette Park, started organizing marches into the area in 1975, stressing nonviolent confrontation. The Rev. Edgar Jackson, 37, one of the founders and leading forces behind the movement, said the marches were organized because black families that moved into the area near Marquette Park were terrorized and harassed. "We had said we were going to march in that area for quite a while because we felt that after Dr. King's death ... he had intended to come back here to prove to the world that black people had a right to walk through any area in America," Jackson said. However, the repeated marches corridor to a separate office and gave her white area listings. In the front office, a black was given listings in changing areas. Mrs. Turnipseed remembers the saleslady telling her, "The area's changing over. All of these are old settler age people and they're getting out." It was a prophetic statement. No sooner did the Briscos and the Turnipseeds move in than their white neighbors' telephones started ringing. The callers were realtors. Some were blunt. "The area is changing and we are wondering if you would like to sell," they said. Panic began to spread. It was agitated by violence. Five days after the Turnipseeds moved in, their garage was set on fire. For six weeks, vandals hurled rocks through their windows and smashed their car windshields. "Everytime we'd get a new window in, they'd break it out," Mrs. Turnipseed recalled. Police cars appeared with regularity at the Turnipseed home and the next door neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Foster, grew worried. Foster suffered from a nervous condition. His blood pressure rose. "The police cars were there all the time," Mrs. Foster said. "My husband's blood pressure went to 210. My husband said, 'What if they (the vandals) mistake our house for theirs?' " The Fosters became even more upset when the Turnipseeds' teenage sons began to make approaches toward their daughter. "Our doctor advised us to move," Mrs. Foster said. The white flight had started. Within a year and a half, hundreds of houses would be sold, earning realtors and mortgage bankers huge profits. The solicitors picked up their pace. One former resident, George Mundt Jr., said his phone number was nonpublished but one day "right out of a clear blue sky" he got a call from a realtor. For six months, the worst abuse the Turnipseeds endured was occasionally picking up a bag of garbage left on their front lawn during the night. Then on Aug. 23, 1975, black activists tried to march down 71st Street right past the Turnipseed home to dramatize the need for open housing. That day somebody tossed a firebomb into the Turnipseeds' back yard. There was another march in October of 1975. The same night a brick broke the Turnipseeds' front window. Winter brought a respite in the violence, but a family tragedy hit -Turnipseed and his older son, L.B. Jr., were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning while they worked on a car in a closed garage. Mrs. Turnipseed made up her mind to sell the house and buy a smaller home. But she was still living there on April 13 when she heard a living room window break at 3:30 a.m. She got out of bed to assess the damage. "My curtains were on fire," she said. "Whatever they threw through the window, it had to explode." Mrs. Turnipseed hustled her son and four small daughters downstairs in the thick smoke. Her nephew, his wife and their two infant children along with two of Mrs. Turnipseed's daughters were trapped upstairs and had to crawl onto a neighbor's roof to escape. Firemen said the blaze was ignited by a faulty wire. Mrs. Turnipseed and her children were living in a motel July 15 when yet another fire broke out in the house. Firemen again blamed faulty wiring, even though the electricity was off. Frankie Turnipseed now lives in an apartment in a high rise housing project. She stays inside most of the time and doesn't make her phone number or address known. She doesn't want to go back to the house anymore. "I don't want to be watching and peering and wondering what's going to be happening tonight or next week," she said. Ebony Realty also caught the backlash although the black firm sold only four or five homes in the area. The Southwest Parish and Neighborhood Federation, backed by six Roman Catholic parishes, had sought to get banks to finance construction of high-rise apartment buildings in the area as a "buffer zone" between blacks and whites. The federation demanded that Rudy James and Jesse Jones, owners of Ebony, sign a form vowing not to solicit. When they refused, Ebony's phone lines were jammed, James was cornered by a crowd in his parking lot and Jones found an angry mob on his front porch. James said his firm was soliciting in the changing area because he had "never seen the housing market this tight" in 15 years. Other black realtors agreed there were thousands of blacks seeking homes, but few listings available. The temporary answer was the area east of Marquette Park. Marquette Park was the best target. Scores of white realtors set up offices south of the area, including the Home Buyers Center, Inc., which had six offices in changing areas across the city. Once the change began, Home Buyers accounted for more than 40 of the first 280 sales. Theodore Bruck, the top company official, was asked why the offices were located near changing neighborhoods. "Where do people open businesses?" responded Bruck. "Where they think they can make some money." At about the same time, a white family of four was seeking to sell their cozy seven-room house across the railroad tracks that for five years had served as a natural barrier between the races. Former residents remember Sam Urso and his family as "troublemakers" and recall that Urso's wife was bent on selling their home, the nicest on the block, "to the niggers." "She threatened us and we didn't think she was gonna do it and she did," said Mrs. Violet Arangelovich, who used to live two doors away. The house was the fourth that Barnes Realty showed Lillie Brisco. She put $1,600 down and bought it with a $21,400 VA-insured mortgage. A few days after she and her son moved in, a firebomb smashed through their front window. In a sense, the Briscos were lucky. A few days later, the Turnipseeds moved in, giving hostile whites a new target. Some whites were racist, identifying the arrival of blacks with the onset of slum conditions. "I've been in the ghetto fire department for 10 years," said John Lewis, a Chicago fireman who moved a few blocks west into the sanctuary of Marquette Park. "I don't want to live with them (the blacks). It feels damn good when you can go somewhere they're not around. I can't help myself." Some sellers were afraid their property value would drop. But most expressed a different fear a fear that all their white neighbors would move away. More than half of 42 former owners interviewed said they would have stayed if the area were stable and integrated. Some even said they preferred a mixed neighborhood. Dr. John Tulley, his wife, Alice, and their infant child moved into the area knowing it was changing. The Tulleys had lived in Bridgeport, the white ethnic stronghold where Mayor Richard Daley lives, and Mrs. Tulley described it as "the most unhealthy neighborhood I've ever lived in, with their racist attitudes." "I didn't want to bring up a child in that," she said. "When we had black people visit us there, they were bothered by police. "We wanted to live in an integrated neighborhood, but we also know there are almost no integrated neighborhoods in Chicago. I don't know how long we'll be able to stay. I don't think it will be good for us to live here when we're the only whites for blocks." For weeks, the Briscos and the Turnipseeds were the only blacks for blocks. Mrs. Brisco and her son escaped with only a few incidents of harassment, but Turnipseed.a crane operater who earned $22,000 a year, his wife Frankie and their six children were to be the victims of neighborhood change. The Turnipseeds' house was a two-flat and Mrs. Evelyn Taylor, the owner, had threatened to sell to blacks after arguing with a neighbor. She listed the home with Ebony Realty, another black realtor. White realtors would take control of the market, but they were waiting for the black realtors to make the first moves, protecting their images before the real selling splurge began. Walter Apins, a janitor who sold his house in June of 1975, said three white realtors didn't even want his business three or four years before the Briscos moved in. They were not ready to sell to blacks. Apins said he got the same response from Russ Pocock Incorporated Realtors, Cahill Brothers Realty and Old London Realty. He said the salesman at Cahill told him, "If you want a better price, wait three of four years until the colored start moving across the railroad tracks." Old London finally found a Spanish-speaking buyer and he sold through the FHA. Mrs. Maureen Boland, who also moved, said a salesman at M R. Jenkins Realty would not sell her home unless other houses on the block had been sold to blacks. Once the change began, the story was different. Of 33 former residents who discussed the subject, only four said white buyers were brought to see their homes. Of 75 black buyers, all but one said they were given listings in only all-black or changing areas such as the eastern fringe of Marquette Park. Whites and blacks masquerading as buyers were sent to 14 realtors in the area, each time asking for the same price range in a brick bungalow. In 11 cases, the whites were given listings in the white areas west of Western Avenue and the blacks were not. Blacks were shown homes east of Western and the whites were not. One firm led a white buyer down a UPI Ttltphoto Police Provide Shield Near Marquette Park . . for Martin Luther King Jr. marchers i- k. .2 -S 1 very imaginative people out here. I'd love to save the neighborhood and make it solid white, the whitest, shimngest neighborhood in the city. Integration has never worked and if it does work, it means the death of the white race." On the wall of the barren party headquarters is a picture of Hitler. Hitler's book, "Mein Kampf," is prominent on a bookshelf. Police Commander William Woods of the Chicago Lawn area, which includes Marquette Park, says the Nazis and a few identifiable members of the Ku Klux Klan have helped "magnify" the conflict between blacks and whites. Despite the party's apparently small base (perhaps 15 members), the Nazis have helped spawn widespread violence. More than 25 of the first black families that moved into the transitional area reported firebombings and broken windows. They said they were terrorized on the streets. At the attempted King movement march on June 6, 14 persons were injured and 32 were arrested. On July 17, when the movement marched to the park under court-ordered police guard, thousands of whites lined the streets and showered the marchers with a hail of bottles and rocks. Authorities said 28 persons, including 15 policemen, were injured and 63 persons were arrested. The violence has been concentrated in the 34-block area between the Marquette Manor area surrounding the park and the all-black neighborhood of West Englewood, hotspots in America's most segregated city. Said Collin: "I would rather have a race war where people are killing each other and lobbing hand grenades at each other, than have a system where everybody lived peacefully together, and brought up their children to race mix with one another." brought opposition from more than just the Nazis and the white homeowners of Marquette Park. Other black groups opposed the marches and soon there was a split within the movement. Jackson, now head of a faction called the MLK Coalition, said the blacks who moved into the fringes of Marquette Park supported the marches even though they took no direct role in the demonstrations. More than 70 black families who moved into the troubled area were interviewed. All of them said they were opposed to the marches. Most felt the demonstrations contributed to the continuing problems. Nazi leader Collin, a 31-year-old fanatic, spends most of his time at "Rockwell Hall," a two-story storefront converted into party headquarters. During an interview Collin was decked out in a full Nazi uniform, complete with a swastika armband. His hair was slicked down in the style of Adolph Hitler. Collin's troops, without uniforms, sat silently and listened. "Tuck in your shirt," Collin barked at one hefty follower. He dutifully obeyed. Collin's parents say they are Jewish. Collin denies it. He talked of shipping all the blacks back to Africa and the "Jew Communists" back to Israel. He said he "sometimes" encourages violence, including the fire-bombing and vandalism of homes bought by blacks on the fringe of the white sanctuary. "With Negro marches coming in here, I don't ask them (area residents) to wave handkerchiefs at them," Collin said. Instead, he said he urges whites to "throw rocks, bottles . . . "I don't have to tell them how to do these things," he said. "They're

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