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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Making All Black Lives Matter: Barbara Ransby talks politics and protesting in 2018

Posted By on 10.10.18 at 06:00 AM

table at yesterday's book talk.
  • Sign-in table at yesterday's book talk.
Barbara Ransby, a history professor at UIC, author of Making All Black Lives Matter, and one of the keynote speakers for the March to the Polls this Saturday, October 13th, hosted a book talk and discussion panel Tuesday at the SEIU Healthcare headquarters on Halsted. The panel also included Jaquie Algee, a board member and organizer of Women's March Chicago, and Chicago poet and playwright Kristiana Colón, cofounder of #LetUsBreatheCollective and creator of #BlackSexMatters.

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Monday, October 8, 2018

In a face-off against Pritzker, Rauner tries a little Reagan-style voodoo economics

Posted By on 10.08.18 at 06:00 AM

Governor Bruce Rauner and Democratic opponent J.B. Pritzker - WLS-TV CHANNEL 7
  • WLS-TV Channel 7
  • Governor Bruce Rauner and Democratic opponent J.B. Pritzker

They were about 12 minutes into the most recent gubernatorial debate last Wednesday when ABC Seven political reporter Craig Wall asked J.B. Pritzker the tax-rate question.

"Mr. Pritzker," Wall asked, "don’t you think the voters deserve to know how much you intend to raise taxes and what those rates would be?"

Pritzker responded by explaining why he thinks the state needs a progressive or "fair" tax that sets a higher rate for the rich. But he said he wouldn't be settling on rates until he had negotiated a deal with state legislators.

In other words, he ducked Wall's question.

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Friday, October 5, 2018

The Jason Van Dyke case showed the danger of being ruled by fear

Posted By on 10.05.18 at 05:28 PM

Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder on Friday. - ANTONIO PEREZ/CHICAGO TRIBUNE
  • Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune
  • Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder on Friday.

Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder today, but in an overwhelming number of cases in America, if a cop shoots someone because he's angry he's considered a murderer, while if he shoots someone because he's scared, he's innocent.

We don't really know what was going on inside of the head of Jason Van Dyke when he shot LaQuan McDonald. It's possible that he was legitimately fearful when he shot the teen 16 times, as he and Laurence Miller—a Florida-based clinical psychologist—testified in the former police officer’s defense.

But an officer can be frightened and still act unjustly. It's worth interrogating that fear and deciding whether it's enough to justify murder, and if so whether it provides enough to base a system of justice upon.

Chris Hayes's 2017 book A Colony in a Nation does a masterful job of explaining how our, country once founded on principles of justice for all, now looks a lot like a police state.

He attributes a lot of the problem to a generalized sense of fear—particularly white people's racial fear of nonwhites. "We obsess over order, fear trumps civil rights," Hayes writes. Fear of crime waves, of terrorist attacks, gets converted into policy, and becomes the justification for the war on the drugs, the war on terror, mass incarceration, and on a more elemental level the police killings of young black men.

Today, the fear of what could happen if the Van Dyke verdict went the other way, and protesters—largely African-American—took to the streets in a rage caused all sorts of overreactions in Chicago.

The Chicago Police Department deployed 4,000 additional officers to the downtown area in anticipation of unrest. Many corporate offices in the city either told their employees to stay home or told them to leave early as soon as a verdict was reached. High schools across the city canceled sporting events. DePaul evacuated its entire Loop campus. 
All of this was deemed necessary even though, as WBEZ’s Natalie Moore noted on Twitter, there hasn't been a full-fledged riot in Chicago in 50 years, and while plenty of activists took to the streets after the 2015 release of the video showing Van Dyke shooting McDonald, the marches were overwhelmingly peaceful.

The case of Van Dyke isn't just a story about one man's exaggerated fear in the face of a 17-year-old who wielded a three-inch blade. It's the story of the strange contradiction at hand in Chicago and in America as a whole: the more safety we experience, the more we fear the loss of it and the more irrationally we act.

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Family of another teen slain by Chicago police reflects on Van Dyke verdict

Posted By on 10.05.18 at 04:35 PM

Calvin Cross was shot and killed by Chicago police officer in 2011. His family is still seeking justice. - COURTESY OF CROSS FAMILY
  • Courtesy of Cross family
  • Calvin Cross was shot and killed by Chicago police officer in 2011. His family is still seeking justice.

Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm this afternoon, nearly four years after he shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald and more than two years since the video of the incident was released to the public.

Three years before McDonald, in 2011, 19-year-old Calvin Cross was shot and killed by Chicago police officers in West Pullman. Chicago cops weren't yet mandated to wear body cameras. There were no dashcam recordings of the incident either. Cross was shot three times by officers Macario Chavez, Mohammed Ali, and Matilde Ocampo. He died on the scene.

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Landlords for rent control? You heard that right

Posted By on 10.05.18 at 08:41 AM

A member of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus listens to state senate testimony about a bill that would enact rent regulation in Illinois - MAYA DUKMASOVA
  • Maya Dukmasova
  • A member of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus listens to state senate testimony about a bill that would enact rent regulation in Illinois

Last week several hundred people packed a state senate hearing room and spilled out into the overflow seating for the latest chapter in the local fight for rent regulation. The hearing, chaired by state senator Mattie Hunter of Chicago, was one of a series soliciting responses to a bill that would not only repeal Illinois's Rent Control Preemption Act but actually establish rent control within the state for the first time since the early 1970s.

Hunter introduced Senate Bill 3512 last February as a companion measure to state rep Will Guzzardi's House Bill 2430. Guzzardi's bill merely proposes to repeal the 1997 Rent Control Preemption Act—a prohibition on any kind of rent regulation, anywhere in the state, that was crafted by real estate interests and jammed through many U.S. statehouses beginning in the 1980s, with the help of the ultraconservative American Legislative Exchange Council. But Hunter's bill goes much further.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

As the hotel strike winds down, a new strike pops up in the West Loop

Posted By on 10.03.18 at 08:16 AM

Scabby the Rat's latest appearance is at 1000 W. Washington, where Painters District Council #14 is protesting the use of nonunion labor. - BRITA HUNEGS
  • Brita Hunegs
  • Scabby the Rat's latest appearance is at 1000 W. Washington, where Painters District Council #14 is protesting the use of nonunion labor.

As the hotel workers' strike winds down, another union is ramping up a strike of its own. Members of the Painters District Council #14 launched a picket Monday at 1000 W. Washington, where the owners of the building, Lieberman Management Company, have contracted a nonunion company, CertaPro Painters.

Victor Hernandez, a business representative for the council, sees this form of labor as mistreatment, "I'm fighting for working-class people to earn a decent wage," said Hernandez. "I know what these people are making, and it's way under the prevailing wage of Illinois."

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The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill is at war with American exceptionalism and imperialism

Posted By on 10.03.18 at 05:59 AM

  • Kholood Eid for The Intercept
  • Jeremy Scahill

There was no obvious moment when the torch passed during host Jeremy Scahill's interview with Seymour Hersh on a recent live episode of Intercepted, but it wasn't difficult to imagine one.

Like Hersh, Scahill was born on the south side of Chicago, and his worldview was partially shaped by his family's experience in the city he calls "this amazing place filled with contradictions."

The 43-year-old investigative journalist and cofounding editor of online news site the Intercept is also following in the formidable footsteps of his Pulitzer Prize-winning forebear in his choice of career. Both men have made their marks unmasking corruption and abuses of power at the highest level of the U.S. government—especially in the domains of wars and foreign policy. For Hersh, it was exposing the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam war, the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, and the CIA's secret surveillance programs. Scahill's reporting helped uncover ugly truths behind Blackwater, the private mercenary army employed by the Bush administration during the Iraq war, and shone a light on the U.S. military's bloody covert operations and drone assassinations during the Obama years.

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Monday, October 1, 2018

Reader announces Anne Elizabeth Moore as editor in chief, Karen Hawkins as digital managing editor

Posted on 10.01.18 at 10:02 AM

Anne Elizabeth Moore
  • Anne Elizabeth Moore

Award-winning cultural critic and comics journalist Anne Elizabeth Moore has been hired by the new publishers of the Chicago Reader as editor in chief.

Moore has worked in independent media since the age of 11, more recently on such projects as Punk Planet, the Ladydrawers, the Best American Comics series, and at Truthout. At a 2011 launch for her book Cambodian Grrrl at the Chicago Cultural Center, she was described as having "pushed Chicago to reenvision what publishing could be for two decades."

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Rauner vs. Kavanaugh—who's the biggest fraud?

Posted By on 10.01.18 at 06:00 AM

What is it with Illinois governors? - JESSICA KOSCIELNIAK/CHICAGO SUN-TIMES
  • Jessica Koscielniak/Chicago Sun-Times
  • What is it with Illinois governors?

As recent events unfold, a pressing question emerges: Who's the bigger fraud, Judge Brett Kavanaugh or Governor Bruce Rauner?

Consider the case for Kavanaugh, Donald Trump's latest Supreme Court nominee. Kavanaugh wants America to believe he's the victim of a massive left-wing conspiracy hatched by the Clintons as payback for the 2016 presidential election.

As opposed to what he really is—a Republican political hack who threw a hissy fit at this week's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing after Christine Blasey Ford, a highly credible psychologist who has nothing to do with the Clintons, accused him of sexual assault.

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Friday, September 28, 2018

Chicago Votes launches Give a Shit Weekend to get young people in Chicago excited about election season

Posted By on 09.28.18 at 04:10 PM

The voter registration table at last night's event
  • The voter registration table at last night's event
Chicago Votes is a nonprofit organization that works toward mobilizing young people to vote. This weekend it's hosting a "Give a Shit Weekend" that includes art shows and installations of various kinds. Last night at Hubbard Inn voter registration and volunteer training was available before, during, and after a fashion show put together by local streetwear brand Runako.

"Our whole premise as an organization is to get more young people involved in politics, but the culture of politics traditionally is pretty boring, pretty old, and pretty white," says Stevie Valles, the executive director of Chicago Votes. "We couldn't take ourselves seriously trying to recruit people from the communities that we're trying to recruit people from." The Give a Shit Weekend is Chicago Votes' way of meeting young people in Chicago halfway.

At last night's event, the room was filled with young creatives, who were registering to vote at the door, and signing up to volunteer before moving onto the bar or the dance floor, where there was a DJ. I saw a couple of baby boomers walk in, their expressions resembling that of Dorothy's when she woke up in Oz. To my surprise, they actually stayed for the duration of the event, which was pretty cool.

The runway, which doubled as a dance floor after the show.
  • The runway, which doubled as a dance floor after the show.
Elijah Runako Boyd, the creator and founder of Runako, draws his inspiration from Chicago. "I'm based [on] the south side of Chicago, and I would say Runako is a direct representation of me and where I come from and my background." He thought getting involved in the Give a Shit Weekend would be an amazing opportunity to get young Chicagoans excited about voting. "Any chance that we get to make a difference [or] a step towards progression is always something that Runako wants to tackle and be a part of." The fashion show reflected Runako's megalocal, community-oriented philosophy with a laid-back energy and friendly models who interacted with the supportive, cheering crowd. They smiled, waved, and sometimes even danced down the runway in bright, shiny mini skirts, crop tops, animal prints, and bold black-and-white patterns.

Elijah Runako and three of his models after the show
  • Elijah Runako and three of his models after the show
This is the first year that Chicago Votes has hosted a Give a Shit Weekend. "This year we're kind of getting a feeler for what we want it to be in the future," says Valles. The event originally started out as an eight-day fashion week but was chiseled down to four days that focus on many different things. "We're doing a fashion show tonight, then an afterparty, then we're doing an art installation tomorrow followed by an afterparty. We're having a Give a Shit happy hour Saturday night in Avondale that's focused on mental health awareness, and then we're having a big party on Sunday night too, that we're not even hosting. We're just showing up to a club and doing voter registration at it. That's what happens when you start trying to blend the worlds. Things just start to happen organically."

Something else that's happening organically is that more well-known artists are being drawn to the initiative as well. "Mick Jenkins is upstairs, I think I saw Taylor Bennett walk in," says Valles. "These things are just kind of happening on their own, we didn't even invite them directly, and that's pretty cool because they have more power than a lot of politicians, and I don't think they really know it." Taylor Bennett later closed out the fashion show, to the surprise of the crowd.

The Give a Shit initiative doesn't stop after this weekend, though. At tonight's event, Chicago Votes is launching the Give a Shit Collective. "It's essentially our creative network," Valles explains. "We're bringing [creatives] into this network that is focused on advancing politics to a younger audience, to their individual audiences, audiences that typically wouldn't engage in politics and we're giving them free-reign to figure out what that would look like. . . . We have a dude that's putting together an album that's centered around politics, we have somebody who's putting together art exhibits." The creatives that make up the Give a Shit Collective range from visual artists and designers to musicians and poets and even the creator of a line of beauty products.

Volunteer sign-up table
  • Volunteer sign-up table
Voter registration is available and encouraged at every event. "Every night we're asking people to register to vote as they sign in and fill out one of our pledge-to-vote cards." By the time I left the event last night, 35 people had registered to vote, including me.

"This is the first night. Tonight seems to be going really well, and it makes sense to hit repeat on things that are going good," Valles says. "Next year, I think there's gonna be more people interested in being a part of it because they've seen it actually happen already."

Give a Shit Weekend Through 9/30: various times and places; see Twitter, @chicagovotes, free, $25 VIP.

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