During our Cabrini-Green community virtual event Saturday, we experienced a horrific attack — what many refer to as a “Zoom bomb” — that forced us to make a hard but necessary decision with our partners, CatchLight Local and City Cast Chicago, to cancel the program set initially as a public event.

As soon as we were aware of the situation, we closed the meeting to attendees and reported the attack to the FBI’s cyber crime unit. Additionally, we notified the nearly 200 registrants and any additional audience members through Eventbrite, our social media platforms and our Weekly Watch newsletter. 

We are truly sorry to all who experienced the atrocity of indecent images and words from the hijackers of our Zoom meeting. 

Still, this experience did not deter us from our commitment to public service and building community. We, along with the panelists and our partners, agreed to utilize the resources we had and hold the conversation offline. This program was essential to better understand the impacts of government policies and actions on the Cabrini-Green neighborhood and its community, especially Black residents.

From left to right: Moderator Jacoby Cochran with panelists Carol Steele, Charles Price, Davon Clark and Shermann “Dilla” Thomas listen as Alejandra Cancino shares a response during the offline conversation. (Olivia Obineme/BGA)

You can listen to an extended discussion on Cabrini-Green, moderated by City Cast Chicago podcast host Jacoby Cochran. Panelists included Alejandra Cancino, former BGA senior investigative reporter and author of “Cabrini-Green: A History of Broken Promises;” Davon Clark, 2020 CatchLight Local fellow; Carol Steele, long-time Cabrini-Green resident and advocate; Charles Price, public housing activist and former Cabrini-Green resident liaison; Shermann “Dilla” Thomas, Chicago urban historian; and Shakira Johnson, National Public Housing Museum oral historian and assistant educator, who joined us via Zoom. 

They discuss Cabrini-Green’s history, findings from the BGA investigation, and the city’s public housing record. They also dive deep into the stories of Cabrini-Green residents and what stories are missing from the narrative of one of the biggest land grabs in Chicago history that forced many Black residents from their homes and jobs.

National Public Housing Museum oral historian and assistant educator Shakira Johnson joined the conversation via Zoom. (Screenshot provided by the BGA)

In a time when we’ve all become more dependent on virtual spaces to hold our once entirely in-person programming, we are all more vulnerable to issues of cyber security. As we stay steadfast in our commitments to community engagement and uplifting community voices, please know that we will strengthen all of our defense measures moving forward. 

We hope that you will take a moment to listen to the recording of the conversation and if you would like to share any feedback or have questions, please share them with us by using our form below.

“BGA Community Forums: Navigating the Story of Cabrini-Green” was in partnership with CatchLight Local and City Cast Chicago

City Cast Chicago recently produced a two-part series on Cabrini-Green ahead of the event. Part One, “‘They Want That Skyline’: How Cabrini-Green Residents Were Displaced,” features WBEZ’s Natalie Moore and Cabrini-Green advocateand former resident J.R. Fleming on the history of Cabrini from the ’70s to the ’90s. Part 2 will be available on Tuesday, Feb. 1 at 6 a.m. — you can find it here: https://pod.link/citycastchicago.

It stems from our investigation, “Cabrini-Green: A History of Broken Promises,” reported by Alejandra Cancino. Photos for the report were taken by CatchLight Local Fellow Davon Clark, a fellowship in partnership between CatchLight and the Institute for Nonprofit News.