Chicago neighborhood awash in blue

By Cloee Cooper Chicago became a centerpiece of the national Black Lives Matter movement after widespread resistance erupted following the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in the fall of 2014. Since then, tensions between the police and Chicago residents have continued, drawing distinct lines throughout the city. One Chicago neighborhood takes a visible stand […]

Domestic worker gains her rights and finds her voice

By Cloee Cooper and Puja Bhattacharjee Lucia Wrooman has been cleaning homes in the Chicago area for 14 years. Originally from Mexico City, she came to the United States with her Italian husband and son after they sold their restaurant in Acapulco in 2002. After so many years in the house-cleaning industry, Lucia works at seven homes a […]

Private treatment center fills void left by state budget cuts

Melvin at Above and Beyond on Jan. 10, 2017

By Cloee Cooper Melvin Daniels was recently released from his second stint in prison for unlawful use of a weapon. On a rainy January morning, he walked ten blocks from his halfway house in Garfield Park to join a couple dozen people, many of them recovering from alcohol and drug addiction. In a well-lit room, they talked […]

East Chicago residents face risk of high lead

By Cloee Cooper Sarah Willis lives near a former U.S. Smelter and Lead Refinery, Inc. plant with her husband and granddaughter in East Chicago, Indiana. The area was designated as a Superfund site, a  federal government program designed to fund the cleanup of sites contaminated with hazardous substances and pollutants. While residents in the nearby […]

Watchdog group on organized racism responds to Trump’s victory

Terri Johnson on Nov. 30, 2016

By Cloee Cooper Many organizations were caught off guard by Donald Trump’s election. Some saw it coming when the presidential campaign geared up last January. “Everyone is understanding now that the far right is now mainstream. Its running the country. We and others have been warning others about this for a long time,” says Reverend […]

Illinois’ pipeline construction proceeds with reservations but no rancor

Dorene Wiese at American Indian Association of Illinois

By Cloee Cooper [Package of Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline stories here] As Native American-led protests against the Dakota Access pipeline continue, major national unions that represent pipeline workers in Illinois have come out in support of the pipeline, despite environmental concerns about the potential for rupture in and around water resources, and […]

Hurting from neglect: Election Day mattered in historic Indiana worker community

Kim Rodriguez at the polling place in Marktown, Indiana on Nov. 8.

By Cloee Cooper Out of nine congressional districts in Indiana, two re-elected Democratic congressmen on Nov. 8. One of those was in the 1st Congressional District, where East Chicago’s historic community Marktown is located. Democratic Rep. Pete Visclosky who has been in office since 1985, was re-elected. Although Marktown voted Democratic, as it usually does, […]

Tales from the ‘overseen’: East Chicago residents line up to vote

Esmerelda Gutierrez outside the polling station in Marktown on Nov. 8

By Cloee Cooper “I think we got screwed this year,” said Ashley Zavala, a 28-year-old custodian at a public school in East Chicago, Ind. She voted for Hillary Clinton, but said her option this election was between worse and worst. “When you have a small town like East Chicago, you are overseen,” said Jose Rodriguez, […]

High end restaurants serve vegetables grown at Cook County jail

Program Coordinator Tina Bentley at Cook County Jail Garden

By Cloee Cooper Surrounded by thick concrete walls and barbed wire fences lies the Cook County Sheriff’s Urban Farming Initiative, a place where jail inmates grow vegetables and herbs which eventually make their way to Chicago’s trendy restaurants and farmers’ markets. The program has operated with inmate labor since 1994. Spanning 130,000 square feet, and […]