Social Justice

Jews have been the target of most hate crimes this year, Chicago police data shows

By Caroline Tanner
Medill Reports

There have been 50 reported hate crimes in Chicago during the first nine months of 2017, according to data released by the Chicago Police Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

This follows a 20 percent rise in hate crimes in Chicago from 2015 to 2016, from 60 to 72 reported incidents, aligning with a national increase in hate crimes across the country. Many attribute rising hate crimes to the heated rhetoric of President Donald Trump and an increasingly polarized political climate.

In this year’s data, religion and race each account for 42 percent of total reported hate crimes in Chicago.
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Volunteers open their homes to those traveling to Chicago for abortions

By Sofi LaLonde
Medill Reports

A blue state among red states in the Midwest, Illinois is often considered an “oasis” for reproductive health care when it comes to access to abortion. But even with less-restrictive abortion policies, clinics in the state are concentrated in Chicago, leaving gaps in access for women statewide, particularly in southern parts of the state.

For the women who travel from all parts of the Midwest to Chicago for easy abortion access, paying for an abortion can be expensive. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 75 percent of abortion patients in the United States are low-income.

But a Chicago nonprofit aims to make abortions more affordable for those who trek long distances to get one in the city.

Midwest Access Coalition, an entirely volunteer-run organization, helps clients with the costs of traveling to Chicago for an abortion and connects them with volunteers who put them up in their homes. The organization serves both Illinois residents and out-of-state patients traveling to Chicago.
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Women in Southern Illinois must travel longer distances to abortion clinics

By Sofi LaLonde
Medill Reports

Women in southern Illinois are disadvantaged when seeking an abortion, according to data on distances to abortion clinics from the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research and policy group, published in early October.

Residents in Illinois have more access to abortion than in other states in the Midwest region, both in distance to clinics and when factoring in state laws, the institute found. However, residents of counties in southern Illinois are farther away from abortion clinics, which can increase the financial burden placed on women seeking abortions.

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Growing Home produces a bountiful harvest for Englewood residents

By Eunice Wang and Natalya Carrico
Medill Reports

Growing Home came to the South Side of Chicago in 2006 under the Englewood Quality of Life Plan. The organization offers a paid, 14-week job training program for adults with varying employment barriers. Approximately 30 percent of the program participants come from the greater Englewood neighborhood.

The farm stand at 5814 S. Wood is open Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through October 26.

Photo at top: Water drop on a chard leaf in the Growing Home garden. (Eunice Wang/MEDILL)

For Minimum Wage Workers, Affordable Housing is Further Out of Reach, New Study Shows

By Sydney Boles
Medill Reports

A new report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows that affordable housing is further out of reach for minimum wage workers in Chicago than it was in 2015.

Someone working at the Chicago minimum wage would have to work 1.6 full-time jobs to afford a one-bedroom apartment, up from 1.3 in 2015. In other words, if a minimum wage worker had only one full-time job, they could reasonably afford just $572 in rent, slightly more than half the cost of the average Chicago apartment.

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Community efforts bring about theme of ‘Englewood Rising’ in the South Side neighborhood

By: Hannah Wiley and Joey Mendolia
Medill Reports

Tina Hammond has brought a splash of color and a message of hope to her Englewood neighborhood.

Buying a vacant lot next to her home for $1 through a city program, Hammond and her husband transformed the once bleak empty space into a garden of positivity.

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Chicago police to roll out body cameras ahead of schedule

By Em Steck
Medill Reports

The Chicago Police Department says it will roll out its body camera program across all districts before the end of the year as part of the city’s promise for greater police accountability.

A total of 8,157 “body worn cameras” will be deployed to patrol officers in Chicago by Dec. 4 across all 25 districts, one year ahead of the city’s plan to bring more transparency to the police force.

“This is a very aggressive rollout. When we’re done, by the end of this year, every patrol officer in every district that works in the field will be equipped with a body worn camera,” Chief Technology Officer Jonathan H. Lewin said in a press conference.

The body cameras are part of the department’s larger mission to build better community relations with civilians after a string of scandals and controversies, including the death of Laquan McDonald on Oct. 20, 2014.
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Chicago River enthusiasts take a group photo to focus on conservation

By Allie Burger

April is Overflow Action Month on the Chicago River. Because of how the city’s sewer system was designed, sewage can enter the river during heavy rains when the drains overflow.

To promote awareness of the issue, and to encourage water conservation, Friends of the Chicago River invited residents to “photobomb” the river.

Photo at top: The event included almost 200 participants downtown. (Friends of the Chicago River)

Logan Square teens preserve their Latino culture

By Alissa Anderegg and Stephanie Rothman

Logan Square is a trendy, up-and-coming neighborhood that has seen thriving new businesses and rising rents. But gentrification is pushing out the Latino population that has lived there for decades. According to U.S. Census data, in the last 15 years, Logan Square has seen the most Latino displacement of all 77 Chicago neighborhoods.

Young teens at the Logan Square Neighborhood Association are getting involved to try to preserve their culture in the face of gentrification. These teenage activists are speaking out against the changes that are directly affecting their families, neighbors and local businesses.

Photo at top: An installation dedicated to the heritage of Logan Square families is on display at the XingonX Cultural Festival, sponsored by the Logan Square Neighborhood Association. (Alissa Anderegg/MEDILL)

‘Fiesta’ brings health services to Chicago’s Latina community

By Alissa Anderegg

After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, Venus Ginés decided there needed to be more health awareness and education for other Latinas. Together with the Mexican consulate, she founded Día de la Mujer Latina to provide free services, seminars and screenings to women around the country.

Now in its 20th year, the organization has reached more than 96,000 women through “health fiestas” in 39 cities. Last week marked the second year the event has come to Chicago.

Photo at top: A nurse administers blood pressure tests to participants of Día de la Mujer Latina’s Health Fiesta. (Alissa Anderegg/MEDILL)