All posts by samoneblair2020

Easter in the time of coronavirus: Memories of hope and togetherness

By Samone Blair
Medill Reports

Despite changes to Easter celebrations across the globe due to the coronavirus, Rev. Chris Wadelton of Columbus, Indiana, hopes his parishioners will remember Easter 2020 as a time of hope.

Wadelton, the Pastor at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church, sees silver linings in the health crisis both with charitable acts and increased family time.

“Sitting here in my office, I have huge windows to look out on the street and I see tons of people going by with their families on bikes and walking, more than I would’ve seen a month ago,” Wadelton said. “So I think there’s been some beautiful rays of light coming out of this, and I hope that that continues.”
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Illinois political polls, explained

By Samone Blair
Medill Reports

Three weeks ago, former Vice President Joe Biden was polling at 20% support amongst Illinois democrats according to Victory Research. This week, he’s at 63% in a Gravis Marketing poll.

Based on the tumultuous nature of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, both of these polls were right at the time when they were conducted.

“I wasn’t planning on conducting another poll before the primary,” said Rod McCulloch, founder of Victory Research. “But the recent nationwide shift in the race between Biden and Sanders makes me curious as well as anybody else.”

Polls are a helpful tool for candidates and voters. Candidates can adapt their campaign strategy based on poll results and voters can feel more informed in their decision making because of them.

“It’s not a perfect predictor of the outcome,” said Dick Simpson, political science professor at University of Illinois at Chicago and a former 44th Ward alderman. “The real predictor is how people vote on election day.”

The accuracy of the polls will be tested once results are shared from the March 17 primary.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Rod McCulloch’s name.

Early voting is in place across Chicago, including at University of Illinois Chicago’s campus. (Samone Blair/MEDILL)

Protestors demand new trial for inmate who alleged torture

By Samone Blair
Medill Reports

Protestors gathered at Daley Plaza Feb. 25 to call for the release of Gerald Reed, an inmate who was allegedly tortured by Chicago detectives, after a Circuit Court Judge reversed a decision that had granted him a new trial.

On Feb. 14, Judge Thomas Hennelly reversed the December 2018 decision of Judge Thomas Gainer that granted Reed a new trial.

Reed, 56, was convicted of a double murder in 1990 and claims that he was tortured into giving a false confession. Reed’s allegations include having a metal rod in his leg broken while being interrogated by former Chicago police commander Jon Burge’s detectives.

The protestors wanted to speak to Timothy C. Evans, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, about restoring Judge Gainer’s original ruling.

“Can Judge Evans do something expeditiously? That’s what we want to know,” said Aislinn Pulley, co-executive director of the Chicago Torture Justice Center. “Can he actually remove Judge Hennelly and overturn his ruling?”

The protestors were able to enter the federal building to talk to Judge Evans. Afterward, Cindy Eigler, co-executive director of the Chicago Torture Justice Center, said that Judge Evans agreed to have a meeting with Reed’s mother, Armanda Shackelford. “As far as I know,” said Eigler. “A time has not yet been set.”

In the meantime, Gerald Reed remains in prison.

Photo at top: Protesters called for a new trial for inmate and alleged torture victim Gerald Reed.(Samone Blair/MEDILL)

Q’s on the Quad: Clemson University

By Samone Blair and Emine Yücel
Medill Reports

When asked if they could name five presidential candidates, the majority of Clemson University students surveyed before the South Carolina primary could only name former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

All the students Medill School’s Q’s on the Quad talked to had questions they wanted to ask President Donald Trump or the Democratic candidates, but most were unable to name five current or former 2020 presidential election candidates.

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Q’s on the Quad: University of South Carolina

By Samone Blair and Emine Yücel

Medill Reports

The day after the New Hampshire primary, Medill School’s Q’s on the Quad asked students at the University of South Carolina in Columbia whether what’s happening in other state’s primaries would affect who they will be voting for on Saturday’s South Carolina primary. While some said even though it’s important to pay attention to the results of other state’s primaries, it’s not crucial in their decision making. Others emphasized they will decide who they’re voting for based on the candidates’ performances so far.

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