Tag Archives: Chicago

Nationwide ‘Bans Off Our Bodies’ Rallies Planned for Saturday

“With the Supreme Court planning to overturn Roe v. Wade, we are at a tipping point in the fight to be able to make decisions about our own bodies, lives, and futures.”

By Jessica Corbett  Published 5-13-2022 by Common Dreams

Supreme Court rally after the decision on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt Texas abortion case, 2016. Photo: Adam Fagen/flickr/CC

People across the United States are planning to take to the streets on Saturday, May 14 to protest right-wing attacks on abortion rights, including the looming reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Pro-choice groups—including Planned Parenthood organizations, Liberate Abortion, MoveOn, Service Employees International Union, UltraViolet, and Women’s March—are putting together marches, rallies, and other events for the “Bans Off Our Bodies” day of action. Continue reading

Share Button

‘Senselessly Unjust’: Ex-Chicago Cop Who Killed Laquan McDonald Released From Prison

The Justice Department is facing pressure to bring federal charges against Jason Van Dyke, who served less than half of his 81-month sentence after being convicted of second-degree murder.

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 2-3-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: C. Presutti/VOA

Critics of police violence toward Black Americans expressed outrage as Jason Van Dyke, the former Chicago cop who killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014, was released Thursday after serving just over three years in prison for a state murder charge.

“A white officer who murdered a 17-year-old Black child by firing 16 shots into his body is walking free today after just three years behind bars. Think about that. Just three years for a violent, vicious attack that killed a child,” tweeted Kina Collins, a Democratic candidate running to represent Illinois’ 7th Congressional District, which includes part of Chicago.

A Cook County, Illinois jury found Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in October 2018. He was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison the following January. The judge’s decision to merge all charges for sentencing was significant because the 16 battery counts each had a mandatory minimum of a six-year prison term.

“An 81-month sentence for the gruesome murder of a child was inadequate in the first place,” said Collins. “For Van Dyke to walk free in less than half that time is senselessly unjust.”

WGN TV reports that Chicago activists “plan on holding a ‘large demonstration’ in Federal Plaza Thursday around 4:00 pm to express their displeasure, with at least 15 social and civil rights groups pledging their attendance.”

Leading up to Van Dyke’s release this week, activists, the NAACP, and political figures have urged the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to update the public on an investigation that was announced in April 2015 and to pursue federal charges against the convicted murderer.

“We’ve been crying aloud for federal charges on Jason Van Dyke for the past three years,” community organizer William Calloway told WGN TV. “It shouldn’t take this to happen, to be on the cusp of his release, to get federal charges pressed on him.”

Tracie Hunter, McDonald’s grandmother, said of Van Dyke that “this man doesn’t need to get out. We are seeking federal charges. The time he did wasn’t enough.”

Collins, in her Thursday morning Twitter thread, said that “I’m calling on U.S. Attorney John Lausch Jr. and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to intervene and bring federal charges against Jason Van Dyke to ensure that he is held accountable.”

The congressional candidate also blasted former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s recent confirmation as U.S. ambassador to Japan. U.S. Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) on Wednesday similarly slammed Emanuel’s new post and called for federal charges against Van Dyke.

Bush also shared a letter that NAACP leaders sent to Garland Tuesday which said the “lack of resolution” in the investigation coupled with the release of the “disgraced” ex-cop is “clearly alarming” and “has given rise to very vocal concerns and unrest” in Chicago.

“We trust that you find the matters alarming as well,” wrote NAACP president Derrick Johnson and Illinois State Conference president Teresa Haley, urging Garland to close the investigation and “move forward with appropriate and applicable federal charges based on the federal grand jury findings and other relevant evidence.”

A DOJ spokesperson confirmed to CNN that the department received the NAACP letter as well as one from Illinois’ two Democratic U.S. senators, who wrote to Garland that “the facts of this case remain shocking and upsetting,” and demanded an update on the federal investigation.

As Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, the Senate Judiciary chair, detailed:

In April 2015, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced a joint federal and state investigation into the shooting; however, there was never an announcement that the federal investigation had closed after Van Dyke was convicted of state charges. In October 2019, when activists called for federal civil rights charges against Van Dyke and other officers involved in the cover up of the murder, the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to state whether the federal investigation was still ongoing or closed. Last week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office again declined to comment on the status of the investigation.

Van Dyke’s state conviction and sentencing do not preempt or negate the interest of the federal government, if the evidence supports charging Van Dyke with violating McDonald’s civil rights under Section 242 of Title 18. The recent federal civil rights case against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin demonstrates this; after Chauvin was found guilty by a state jury and sentenced to 22 years for murdering George Floyd, Chauvin pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges under Section 242. Chauvin admitted that his willful use of unreasonable force resulted in Floyd’s death. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Chauvin faces a sentence of over 20 years in prison.

“We urge the Justice Department to carefully and expeditiously complete its investigation,” the senators wrote, telling Garland that they “look forward to your prompt report” on the probe.

Collins, in a statement Tuesday, said that “this is a step in the right direction” for the senators, “but let’s be clear: we don’t just need an update, we need charges filed.”

“This is an open and shut case,” she said. “This murder was a clear-cut violation of Laquan McDonald’s civil rights. Just like in Chauvin’s case, the federal charges against Van Dyke should be straightforward. It’s past time for the federal charges to be filed.”

U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García, who represents Illinois’ 4th Congressional District, said Thursday that “there can never be justice for Laquan McDonald, but Jason Van Dyke’s early release negates even the small measure of accountability that his conviction provided.”

“Van Dyke’s early release is a slap in the face to our communities, and today I join the call for the Department of Justice to consider bringing civil rights charges against Van Dyke,” García added. “Laquan’s life mattered. Black Lives Matter.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
Share Button

McDonald’s Workers Join ‘Striketober’ and Walk Out Over Sexual Harassment

One striker participated because “McDonald’s still refuses to take responsibility for the countless women and teenagers who face harassment on the job at its stores across the globe.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 10-26-2021

Employees of a McDonald’s in North Charleston, South Carolina walked out with workers across the United States for a one-day strike on October 26, 2021. (Photo: NC Raise Up/Twitter)

Amid of wave of worker walkouts that supporters are collectively calling “Striketober,” McDonald’s employees in at least 12 U.S. cities took to the streets Tuesday to raise concerns about how the fast food giant has handled sexual harassment and to demand a union.

Though McDonald’s in April announced new sexual harassment training standards that all of its restaurants worldwide will be required to meet by January 2022, workers still joined the one-day walkout from Chicago and Detroit to Houston and Miami, charging that the company has not done enough to keep employees safe on the job. Continue reading

Share Button

As heat waves intensify, tens of thousands of US classrooms will be too hot for students to learn in

Climate change means more schools will need to install or upgrade cooling systems.
Bill Uhrich/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Paul Chinowsky, University of Colorado Boulder

Rising temperatures due to climate change are causing more than just uncomfortably hot days across the United States. These high temperatures are placing serious stress on critical infrastructure such as water supplies, airports, roads and bridges.

One category of critical infrastructure being severely affected is the nation’s K-12 schools.

Ideally, the nation’s more than 90,000 public K-12 schools, which serve over 50 million students, should protect children from the sometimes dangerous elements of the outdoors such as severe storms or extreme temperatures. Continue reading

Share Button

Nabisco Strike Ends After Union Members Approve New Contract

“Congratulations to these brave workers on their wins,” said one labor writer. “May their determination and grit be an inspiration for workers everywhere.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-19-2021

Nabisco workers on strike (Photo: BCTGM/bctgm.org)

A strike that started last month in Portland, Oregon and spread to other Nabisco bakeries and distribution centers across the United States ended Saturday after unionized workers voted “overwhelmingly” in favor of a new collective bargaining agreement.

Though some Portland employees opposed ratifying the four-year contract, calling for better terms, it ultimately garnered the necessary support from workers there and at facilities in Aurora, Colorado; Richmond, Virginia; Chicago, Illinois; and Norcross, Georgia. Continue reading

Share Button

Medicare for All Advocates Take to the Streets of Over 50 US Cities

“How can we have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness when we live in constant fear of illness, bankruptcy, or homelessness because of the outrageous for-profit healthcare system?”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-24-2021

People marched in more than 50 U.S. cities on Saturday to demand Medicare for All. (Photo: @Jaybefaunt/Twitter)

Just days before the 56th anniversary of Medicare being signed into law, advocates for creating a public, universal health insurance program in the United States to replace the largely private, for-profit system held marches in more than 50 cities across the country on Saturday.

The day of action was organized by a coalition of over 100 groups, from Mainers for Accountable Leadership, the Chicago Teachers Union, and Sunrise Movement Seattle to various arms of Democratic Socialists of America, Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), and Our Revolution. Continue reading

Share Button

America gets a D+ for school infrastructure – but federal COVID relief could pay for many repairs

Money from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan could go toward much-needed improvements to crumbling public school buildings. Erin Clark for The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Michael Addonizio, Wayne State University

Many kids are attending public schools this spring with the use of COVID-19 safety protocols, including more desk spacing, more frequent cleaning and mandates to wear masks.

But far too many of the school buildings themselves remain dilapidated, toxic and in desperate need of structural improvements.

On average, U.S. public schools are more than 50 years old – and by and large they are not being properly maintained, updated or replaced. The American Society of Civil Engineers graded America’s public K-12 infrastructure a D+ in their 2021 Infrastructure Report Card, the same abysmal grade as in their prior 2017 report.

But help may finally be on the way. Continue reading

Share Button

Federal Crackdown in Portland Provokes Solidarity Protests Across the Country

“This is my first protest,” said a 45-year-old woman who joined the “Wall of Moms” at a Saturday demonstration in Seattle.

-By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-26-2020

Oakland protest – late night/early morning of July 26, 2020. Photo: Amber Stewart/Twitter

People took to the streets in communities across the United States on Saturday in solidarity with ongoing protests against police brutality in Portland, Oregon that have been met with a forceful and widely criticized response from federal agents deployed by President Donald Trump, who has said he will send teams to other major U.S. cities.

Early Saturday evening, speakers at the Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in Oakland, California delivered remarks about systemic racism, police misconduct, and racial injustice before the crowd marched past murals of Black Americans killed by law enforcement to the city’s police headquarters, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Continue reading

Share Button

Trump Threat to Unleash Secret Police in Other US Cities Slammed as Scheme to ‘Steal the November Election’

“The exercise also has the advantage for Trump of entrenching a new form of secret police and of turning federal agents into instruments of his authoritarianism.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-20-2020

Screenshot: ABC News

Amid mounting criticism over the deployment of unidentified federal agents to Portland, Oregon—where they have been driving around in unmarked vehicles and snatching people off the streets—civil liberties advocates are increasingly concerned that President Donald Trump will similarly send “secret police” to other Democrat-led cites across the country as part of a 2020 campaign strategy to sow chaos and further his law-and-order message.

“Part of Trump’s reelection strategy is to scare the white suburbs, which polls show have soured on him, with ‘urban’ (read: minority) violence,” University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole wrote Monday for his website Informed Comment. Continue reading

Share Button

Polls: Four Weeks of Protest Have Radically Altered American Views on Police

American voters now support sweeping changes to policing; 83 percent want a ban on racial profiling, 92 percent want police to be required to wear body cameras and White Americans’ concern over police violence has increased by 50 percent since 2019.

By Alan Macleod  Published 6-19-2020 by MintPress News

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Just four weeks of protest have radically altered Americans’ views on the police and what their role in society should be. Once almost exclusively the domain of activist groups, moves to comprehensively change, defund or even abolish the police are rapidly gaining momentum with the public.

new study published this week by Data for Progress shows that voters overwhelmingly (58 percent to 24 percent) support the creation of a new agency of first responders to deal with problems in the community – an agency that would explicitly undermine the police’s purview. The public would like to see the service, whose agents would resemble social workers more than police officers, take over a great number of situations police currently deal with, including mental health crises, drug addiction problems (including overdoses), and issues regarding homelessness. Significant numbers of people want to see the new agency tackle issues like spousal abuse and all non-violent crimes as well. “For elected officials looking to strengthen their communities and take action in the face of mass protest on police brutality, creating a non police first-responder agency proves to be a popular option that deserves their attention,” the report concludes. Continue reading

Share Button