Social Justice

Volunteers and survivors of sexual assault help other survivors

By Chris Schulz
Medill Reports

Medical advocates always hope they will not receive this notification during their shift. Even though they have trained for the scenario, are certified by the state to respond and have volunteered their time for this exact reason, it is still heartbreaking. The notification means that someone, somewhere in a hospital in Chicago has just disclosed that they survived a sexual assault.

Medical advocates are dispatched on these calls by the organization they volunteer with, such as YWCA-Chicago or Resilience, notified directly by staff at the hospital.

Although she stresses that every case is different, Lindsay Cogan always tries to start her interactions with survivors by communicating: “This isn’t your fault. I believe you. You have options.”

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Every night out in the cold: Volunteers count the city’s homeless


By Lu Zhao and Kimberly Jin
Medill Reports

Shivering in the icy wind, he stood alone on the refuge island at the crossroad of West Cermak Road and South Clark Street. Out in the pitch darkness, the middle-aged man became visible under a dim streetlight.

Being first-time volunteers for the annual Homeless Count, we hesitated. How should we politely approach him? But on a quiet winter night with little traffic, he easily noticed us and ran across the street towards us.

The dusky streetlight shed light on his gray thick beard and the wrinkled face hidden under his dark blue hood. We explained how we were here collecting information about homeless people for the city. But he seemed perplexed, making a hoarse sound. He raised a hand to point at his ear and slowly shook his head.

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Local businesses assess the impact of the Lincoln Yards project

By Louis Ricard
Medill Reports

Developer Sterling Bay is working with the City of Chicago to bring a new recreational area in Lincoln Yards, a massive city-within-a-city proposed development

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After Alderman Brian Hopkins (2nd) gave his approval earlier this month to the third and latest proposal in his ward, the Chicago Plan Commission voted unanimously in favor of the project Thursday during its monthly meeting. The new project straddles 55 acres of the Chicago River on Chicago near North Side will cost up to $6 billion to develop, helping to reshape the entire area, according to Sterling Bay’s website.
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Frances Willard and the fight for women’s suffrage

By Nora Mabie
Medill Reports

The Midterm elections of 2018 catapulted women to political victories at all levels of government, with a record number of women now serving the 116th Congress. These historic triumphs take on new meaning as we approach June 2019, marking 100 years since Congress passed the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote.

One of the heroes of the movement to get the vote is Frances Willard, a suffragist whose home and museum in Evanston celebrates a woman and a political master worth remembering.

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Doomsday clock remains at two minutes to midnight, closest setting to Apocalypse

By Lily Qi
Medill Reports

The Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists announced Thursday that the hands on the Doomsday Clock remain at two minutes to midnight in  “a new abnormal” world situation with little progress made on limiting nuclear risks, climate change dangers and cybersecurity threats.

The hands of the clock freeze where they were last year and also in 1953, the closest to midnight since the clock was first set in 1947 to measure our proximity to Cold War Armageddon. Rachel Bronson, President and CEO of the Bulletin organization, along with other board members and scholars, revealed the clock’s setting for the coming year.

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Chicago mayoral candidates demand voter access and equity for upcoming election

By Ariana Puzzo
Medill Reports

“If we’re going to get the confidence of the people of Chicago, what we have to do is do everything legitimate,” said the former Chicago police superintendent and mayoral candidate Garry McCarthy.

The opposite is done in Chicago to promote voter turnout in some areas, McCarthy said at Monday’s mayoral forum. He said the city’s February election is demonstrative of the issue of legitimacy, citing low voter turnout and how it is an effort to “swing the election.”

“The voters don’t have the rights that they need because of the way that the system is designed,” McCarthy said. “So, this goes way past just what happens inside with those machines and to the entire system at the same time.”

Seven of the 14 mayoral candidates at the forum spoke about voting access at the forum at Northwestern University School of Law. The forum focused on other topics including education equity in Chicago Public Schools and police accountability. Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights co-hosted the event with the National Lawyers Guild at Northwestern.

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Eleven Chicago mayoral candidates stress LGBTQ issues and positions

By Ariana Puzzo
Medill Reports

Eleven Chicago mayoral candidates stressed the importance of an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum in city schools and the elimination of workplace discrimination. They spoke at a public forum on Saturday at the Second Presbyterian Church, one of several mayoral forums on city policies.

LGBTQ community organizations invited the candidates to speak so residents are educated about each candidate’s position and platforms regarding LGBTQ Chicagoans, said Anthony Galloway, the director of civic engagement for Equality Illinois. Equality Illinois was among the organizations involved in the forum, along with others including the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus, the LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois and Pride Action Tank.

The candidates focused first on how to address high LGBTQ unemployment rates. Attorney John Kozlar said, as mayor, he wants to hire people on his staff who are part of the LGBTQ community to address such challenges since they are aware of the issues.

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Youth-led Chicago women’s rally gathers a warm reception despite snow and frigid cold

By Ariana Puzzo
Medill Reports

More than 1,100 Facebook users responded to Jazmine Cruz’s call to march for gender equality Saturday despite the absence of a Women’s March in Chicago this year. Some 300 people showed up for the rally that also focused on human rights, health care, social justice, and empowering women and girls.

Cruz, 19, said her disappointment that Women’s March Chicago was cancelled led her to organize the Young Women’s March Rally 2019 at the Chicago Federal Center Plaza so that young people could speak about equality. Cruz said she did not expect the turnout, but hopes it “shows Chicago’s diversity and inclusivity.”

“I do want this to inspire other young women and girls and activists to make their own rallies, to become activists themselves,” said Cruz, a freshman at Roosevelt University in Chicago. “I think it’s important that the next generation of girls are empowered and inspired and are able to make noise and make change.”

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Young women’s march draws hundreds amid furious snowstorm

By Kimberly Jin
Medill Reports

Amid fierce wind and heavy snowfall, hundreds gathered on Federal Plaza in Chicago on Saturday to support women’s rights and young local activists committed to human rights, social justice and health care.

Jazmine-Marie Cruz, a freshman at Roosevelt University, organized the rally after learning that Women’s March Chicago won’t be sponsoring a march this year. She said she was touched and encouraged by the large turnout for the Young Women’s March Rally.

“I’m so proud of everybody who showed up,” the 19-year-old said. “Oppression doesn’t stop because it’s snowing. We obviously showed that no matter what the weather Chicago is ready to fight for the world that we want.”
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Chicago mental health task force will address voids in public services

By Carly Graf
Medill Reports

A City Council committee took the first step Wednesday to address the gaping holes in mental health services for residents in minority neighborhoods.

Calling the 2012 closing of six public mental health clinics a mistake, the City Council Health and Environmental Protection Committee voted to create the Public Mental Health Clinic Service Expansion Task Force to explore the voids left ever since and make recommendations to the committee.

Since the closings, hospitalizations for behavioral mood disorders are on the rise, according to Healthy Chicago 2.0, a report commissioned by the Chicago Department of Public Health in 2016. Continue reading