In early June 1951, Mrs. DeRose, who owned an apartment building at 6139–43 W. 19th Street in Cicero, got into a controversy with her tenants and was ordered to refund a portion of the rent. Afterwards, out of anger and/or profit, she rented an apartment to Harvey E. Clark Jr., an African-American World War II veteran and graduate of Fisk University, and his family in an all-white neighborhood. A high-ranking Cicero official learned that an African-American family was moving into a Cicero apartment and warned Mrs. DeRose that there would be "trouble" if he moved in. At 2:30 pm, on June 8, a moving van containing $2000 worth of Clark's furniture was stopped by the police. The rental agent was ushered out with a drawn revolver at his back. A jeering crowd gathered and Clark was told by the police to get out or he would be arrested "for protective custody." A detective warned Clark that, "I'll bust your damned head if you don't move." At 6:00 pm, Clark was grabbed by 20 police officers. The chief of police told him, "Get out of here fast. There will be no moving into this building." Clark was hit eight times as he was pushed towards a car which was parked across the street and was shoved inside the car. The police told him, "Get out of Cicero and don't come back in town or you'll get a bullet through you."
A suit was filed by the NAACP against the Cicero Police Department on June 26, and the Clark family moved in.