Furor hurts, mystifies family

Shortly after the raid, one of the Harrises' daughters, Yvonne, stood up at a CAPS meeting.

"I said: 'If you all had a problem with us, all you had to do was knock on the door. Let me know. I will address it.' "

She recalled the meeting as she sat in her parents' living room last week, surrounded by packing boxes.

"We're not the cream of the crops here," she said. "We didn't have the money to fix up the property like other people fixed up theirs. We living. We try to maintain here as a family, keep our parents comfortable."

At the CAPS meeting that night, several people who had complained about the family were in the audience. None of them said a thing.

"Sometimes," said Mr. Harris, with a weak smile, "you just have to move on."

"I'd move on," said his wife. "But I just don't know why. Why? And we got nowhere to go."

It was a gray morning. In the mess of clothes and boxes, Mrs. Harris, who is 80, slowly folded a pair of pants.

They could come back to the house if they fixed it up in the next nine months. They have no cash to do it. They're sitting on a fortune in land, but the million or more they might eventually make by selling doesn't pay a rental deposit this week.

Maybe a new place wouldn't be so bad, somewhere fresh with a garage, a garden. But they can't buy before they sell.

And no amount of money will erase the humiliation.

"Do you know how bad you feel when you come out and everybody's laughing at you?" Mr. Harris said.

The family doesn't blame the police. They have nothing bad to say about their neighbors.

Mostly, they're hurt and mystified and convinced, as some of their supporters are, that they are up against forces of development too big to fight.

Mrs. Harris propped her head on one of the boxes. She gazed out the window, silent, toward the playground, where on Sunday several neighbors will throw them a farewell party.

"It's not the dogs," she finally said. "It's not us. They just want this property."

The facts in this case can be argued. So can what they mean.

But what happened to the Harrises should not have happened, not this way, so abruptly, without mercy and without help and with no proof of great crime, is simply wrong. It divides a divided city even more. Chicago is better than that.