We happened to be taking a shortcut down the alley behind 4441 Malden when we came across the famous COURAJ Garage depicting its version of the history of Uptown.
There's the Tent City, where "the Union of the Homeless sawed off the chain on a new black wrought-iron fence [in 1988] and claimed a vacant lot [at 4425 Malden, just a few houses down from the garage's location]. They pitched tents to provide temporary shelter for some two dozen families who huddled in protest of a lack of affordable housing in Uptown." Our newly-minted alderman managed to get herself arrested there for refusing to leave the premises, and she and JPUSA joined forces in the Tent City. It's now CHA scattered-site housing.
Then there's the reference to the practice of landlords burning their own buildings for the insurance money in the 1970s: "No Arson For Profit." One reason Uptown was able to build so much new housing stock, both scattered-site and market rate, in the past 20 years is because there were so many empty lots left after all the landlord arsons of decades past.
But this one kind of confuses us. We're not sure if it's part of the original murals or something added by a "non-authorized artist." Maybe someone from COURAJ can explain what it means: "BUT WITH UNDERSTANDING COMES SHORTIES WITH FISTS DEMANDING NEW USE FOR UPTOWN VENUES."
And sadly, the gang graffiti on the mural is perfectly clear. Is COURAJ really endorsing "Gangster Disciple Killers" and "Conservative Vice Lord Killers"? If not, we wish they'd remove the tags from their property. Because residents who don't appreciate what the gangbangers bring to our community remove gang tags, rather than provide the gangbangers a billboard, right?