All posts by Kierra Gray

CDC highlights lifetime risks for contracting HIV

By Kierra Gray

One in two black men, one in four Latino men and one in 11 white men who are gay or bisexual have a risk of contracting HIV in their lifetimes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released these latest statistics recently.

The AIDS Foundation of Chicago helped host an event called PrEP4Love at West Point Baptist Church in Chicago in conjunction with Women’s History Month and National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

Kierra Gray brought three women from the AIDS Foundation of Chicago into the studio to discuss HIV and safer sex practices.

Artists and performers collaborated with local organizations in Chicago to promote safer sex practices at an event called PrEP4Love.

How the Chicago protest movement helped Kim Foxx win the State’s Attorney nomination

By Kierra Gray

On Primary Election night in Chicago, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez conceded to Democratic rival Kim Foxx.

Alvarez faced intense criticism after her office waited 400 days to release a police dash cam footage showing the shooting death of Laquan McDonald by former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke.

When the video was released last November, protests erupted across the city. And various activists who took part in those protests believe they had a part in Alvarez’s defeat.

“To me, I’m never going to love the head prosecutor of the county. Their job is to lock up black and brown people and I will never believe in that,”said Tess Raser, an activist with the foundation Assata’s Daughters.”However, I do believe there will be significant harm reduction if Kim Foxx is elected.”

Foxx will face Republican challenger Christopher Pfannkuche, a prosecutor for three decades, in the November election.

Photo at top: Kim Foxx gives a victory speech after winning in the democratic primary for Cook County State’s Attorney. (Kierra Gray/Medill Reports)

Sanders and Clinton battle for donations in Chicago

By Kierra Gray

While they battle for votes in advance of tomorrow’s primary election, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are also battling for donations in Chicago.

Using publicly available data of contributions, DNAInfo recently compiled a neighborhood map of Chicago categorizing the donations received by the two Democratic candidates.

The results by zip code show that in many cases Sen. Sanders has more donors than former Secretary of State Clinton, but she has raised much more money. Clinton’s fundraising total (as of March 1st) is $2.2 million in the city of Chicago as opposed to Sanders’ $387,000.

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On International Women’s Day, workers rally for better treatment

By Kierra Gray

Women workers rallied Tuesday outside the so-called “Rock N Roll” McDonald’s in River North to fight for a 15-dollar minimum wage and an end to workplace discrimination.

In honor of International Women’s Day, workers from fast food restaurants presented a petition to the manager at the McDonald’s.

The protesters said gender, race and age discrimination have affected women’s work hours, promotion and potential for advancement.

Fatima Ramirez, 21, is an employee at a McDonald’s in Chicago. She said she came to the rally to help another woman gain respect from her manager.

McDonald’s did not respond to a request for comment about the rally and the protesters’ petition.

Photo at top: On International Women’s Day, protesters rally outside a McDonald’s to call for higher wages and better treatment for women workers. (Kierra Gray/MEDILL)

New legal action in Laquan McDonald case

By Kierra Gray

A coalition of lawyers, community activists and leaders filed a petition Tuesday requesting that the Circuit Court of Cook County remove State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez from the Laquan McDonald case.

In October 2014, Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke shot 17-year-old McDonald 16 times, leading to his death. The city, and Alvarez, delayed the release of video footage of the shooting, causing controversy, protests and distrust among many in the public.

Petitioners say Alvarez has a conflict of interest and a bias in favor of the police. Their petition requests a special attorney to preside over the case.

In a press release, Alvarez defended her record, saying she has brought charges against 96 law enforcement officers when the facts warranted it. She also said the latest legal action is politically motivated, and not a coincidence that it was filed a month before the election for her seat.

A court hearing in the case of the petition is scheduled for February 26th.

Local activists trying to energize millennial voters

By Kierra Gray

Robert Moses thinks millennials can have a big say in the outcome of the upcoming presidential election. The 23-year-old University of Illinois at Chicago student is an organizer for the non-profit Chicago Votes. Its goal is to register new voters and makes complex political issues easy for young people to understand.

“I feel like they’re [millennials] engaged by doing community work like activism,” said Moses. “I know a lot of millennials that are a part of different organizations that care about voting. They care about the South Side Trauma Center, they care about mental health, CPS equity. Millennials are definitely hitting the organizing, especially in Chicago.”

But getting them to the ballot box has proven challenging. In 2012, about 220 million Americans were eligible to vote but only 150 million are registered to vote, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute. Among 18 to 24-year-olds, 58.5 percent were registered to vote.

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The name is the least of the controversy for Chi-Raq

By Kierra Gray

In Spike Lee’s new film Chi-Raq, he explores gang violence and the use of sex strikes as a tactic to combat violence.

This modern-day adaptation of Aristophanes’ ancient Greek satire “Lysistrata” is set on the South Side of Chicago.

After a stray bullet kills a young child in a gang war, our modern-day Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris) organizes a sex strike among women in her community, just as her ancient counterpart did. The men will get “no piece” without peace between the rival Spartan and Trojan gangs in the community, they vow.

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FDA asks you what natural should mean on food labels

By Kierra Gray

“If taken in literal terms, very few products offered in a grocery store are ‘natural.’ Most products are highly processed, packages, and sterilized to a degree that is unrepresentative of nature,” one anonymous skeptic told the FDA.  “Labeling a product as ‘natural’ can be misleading to the layperson and should not be used.”

More than 1,900 other people have commented since the Food and Drug Administration opened a portal to seek public feedback on the meaning of the term natural on food labels. Continue reading

Lucas Museum location lawsuit continues (Video)

By Kierra Gray

Last week’s approval by the City Council to sanction the lakefront site for the Lucas Museum is not stopping Friends of the Parks from pursuing the group’s lawsuit against the Chicago Park District and the city.

So controversy over the site continues even after the city and the Chicago Bears franchise negotiated an arrangement that gives avid Bears fans  tailgating spaces that would have been lost to the museum.

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New Chicago budget hikes property taxes

By Kierra Gray

Chicago homeowners are facing an estimated 13 percent property tax increase after the City Council voted 35-15 to approve Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s $7.8 billion dollar city budget Wednesday.

The fiscal 2016 budget includes $755 million in additional taxes and fees. Chicagoans will see the property tax increase take effect over four years. Continue reading