All posts by katemorrissey

Righteous Fighters: how boxing can save lives in Chicago’s Southside (Video)

By Iacopo Luzi

40-year-old Ramon Zavaleta is a 4th District police officer with the Chicago Police Department. He is not just a cop. Every day, when his shift is over, he goes to the Community Christian Church and he becomes a boxing coach.

Four years ago, he took an empty room in an East Side building and turned it into a gym. Today it is the home of the Righteous Fighters, a boxing/MMA group founded by Ramon where young people are taught how to box and be respectful.
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With your hand in my hand: Formerly incarcerated move forward

By Kate Morrissey
This article also appeared in The Chicago Defender.

When Sharon Lacy’s brother approached her excitedly to tell her that he had gotten a drivers’ license, he was 32. She laughed at him. Then she paused.

“It was normal to me, but it wasn’t normal to him,” she realized. Continue reading

Racial bias in policing not just a Ferguson problem

By Kate Morrissey

Page May said that when her family came to visit her in Chicago, they were all standing on a street corner in Logan Square as a police officer pulled up slowly beside them and signaled to her that he was watching. She said he then drew his hand across his throat and drove away.

For May, an activist with Chicago-based We Charge Genocide, the recent findings by the Department of Justice’s civil rights investigation into the Ferguson Police Department are nothing new, nor are they particular to the city of Ferguson. In 2014, May’s organization gathered testimony from African-American and Latino Chicagoans to submit to the United Nations about police brutality.

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From Chinatown to Bloomingdale’s: Chicago celebrates Chinese New Year

By Kate Morrissey

Despite the snow that rattled rush-hour drivers Wednesday evening, the Phoenix Restaurant hosted a who’s who of Chinatown’s business and political leaders for one of the many celebrations of Chinese New Year happening across Chicago.

Chinese New Year, more accurately referred to as Lunar New Year, began Thursday, and, according to Raymond Chin, the chairman of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce and Wednesday’s host, the parties can last up to a month. In Chicago the celebrations have spread beyond Chinatown’s borders and include a diverse community, which Chin said has contributed to Chinatown’s growth.

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Peculiar Polling Places

By Mallory Hughes

As Chicagoans went out to the polls on Election Day, common voting locations included nearby schools or churches, maybe an apartment building or a library.

Some voters had a little bit more of an adventure.

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Chicago election turn out hits recent low

By Laura Furr and Emily Hoerner

Updated at 11 p.m.

Chicago voter turnout for the 2015 municipal election was the lowest it has been in recent history, beating out the 2007 low of 33.1 percent.

According to the Chicago Board of Election’s unofficial summary 32.7 percent of the city’s 1.42 million registered voters showed up at the polls Tuesday.

Throughout the day, Chicagoans described the calm of the polling stations.

“It was super quiet. It was like a library,” said 34-year-old Chicagoan Whet Moser, who tweeted that he was the 122nd voter at 3 p.m. at the Smith Park voting site in the 26th Ward.

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Free Street youth debate on stage: All lives matter or no lives matter

By Kate Morrissey

One year ago Tuesday, Deonta Mackey was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in the Pullman neighborhood when he tried to rob the officer at gunpoint at a gas station.

“Track 13,” a play created by a youth ensemble composed of members from the Young Fugitives ensemble and members from the youth ensemble at Free Street Theater, uses Mackey’s death as a jumping off point to explore different perspectives about young people of color and their struggle with police violence in Chicago. Continue reading

Black history told in 30 minutes for history month celebration

By Kate Morrissey

In just 30 minutes, a cast of readers provided a timeline of African-American history beginning with life in Africa, moving through slave trade and emancipation and culminating in the progress made by people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama.

The Illinois Department of Human Rights hosted readings Wednesday from a play “From Slavery to the White House,” written by Crystal Phoenix Tyler of Blue Sky Rhythm Productions, at the James R. Thompson Center in observation of black history month.

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Women on Illinois corporate boards: one is the loneliest number

By Kate Morrissey

When Victoria Medvec heard a recent Catalyst report about the small percentage of women on corporate boards, she had one question, “Who are they?”

She wanted to call the two companies in Illinois that had no women.

Medvec, the executive director for the Kellogg Center for Executive Women at Northwestern University, said companies that include women on their boards end up with a higher quality board because they are pulling from a larger talent pool that includes greater diversity in experience and perspective. The center offers leadership workshops to executive-minded women and keeps a database of attendees to help board searches find qualified women.

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Video: Police Torture Reparations Gain Momentum in City Council

By Kate Morrissey

Alderman Howard Brookins Jr. (21st) asked City Council Wednesday for a hearing on the ordinance that would give reparations to those tortured by police under the command of Jon Burge. Members of Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, Project NIA and Amnesty International showed their support through demonstrations during the council meeting.
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