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Chicago’s most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city’s storied history.
Richard J. Daley a ‘horribly racist mayor,’ great-grandson says in letter
A great-grandson of Mayor Richard J. Daley has called out several members of his extended family, accusing them of being “committed to white supremacy” in an open letter published last week.
In “A Letter to My Cousins,” published Wednesday in South Side Weekly, Bobby Vanecko calls his great-grandfather a “horribly racist mayor” and points to great-uncle Richard M. Daley’s involvement “in covering up evidence of Chicago police torture.”
Vanecko, a law student at Loyola University Chicago who was raised in Sauganash, has signaled his support for defunding police departments and abolishing prisons in a series of social media posts. He serves as an intern for First Defense Legal Aid, a group that “mobilizes lawyers & overpoliced community members to fill gaps in public defense & create, protect and engage replicable alternatives to the criminal system starting with its entry points,” according to its mission statement.
He declined to comment through a spokeswoman for the group.
Vanecko’s op-ed also targets Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th), one of his father’s cousins. Vanecko criticized the alderman for wanting “to give even more power and resources to CPD,” which Vanecko attributes to Thompson’s “idolization” of Richard J. Daley.
Thompson told us it’s “unfortunate” Vanecko used a public platform to raise issues about the family. “That young man is entitled to his own interpretations of facts and history,” Thompson said. “As far as his comments about me, my reputation among everyone I’ve ever known and worked with speaks for itself. That’s all I have to say.”
Vanecko says his political family member’s support for racist policies can be traced back to Richard J. Daley, who ruled over the city from 1955 until his death in 1976 and resisted efforts toward desegregation.
“The first Mayor Daley was enduringly successful in shaping his city, and his legacy influences Chicago’s politics today,” Vanecko wrote. “Chicago remains one of the most segregated cities in the country, while public schools, health facilities, and housing have been closed and divested from; at the same time police spending per capita has tripled since 1964.”
The elder Mayor Daley’s standard of “law and order” denied people fighting against this racism, Vanecko wrote, nodding to both President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden for campaigning on similar notions in the 2020 presidential election.
Vanecko said this trend continued with Richard M. Daley, Vanecko’s great-uncle and former Cook County state’s attorney and Chicago’s mayor from 1989 to 2011. His great-uncle “was involved in covering up evidence of Chicago police torture,” Vanecko said. Richard M. Daley has denied knowing anything about police torture during his tenure.
“Many people in our family are still committed to white supremacy today, even if they are not racist interpersonally,” Vanecko wrote.
Keep reading this story from Clare Proctor and Tom Schuba here.
More news you need
- Illinois health officials announced 11,632 new and probable cases of the coronavirus today as well as 37 more deaths, as stay-at-home advisories took effect in Chicago and suburban Cook County. The new case numbers continue a grim 11-day streak of Illinois logging more than 10,000 cases per day.
- Mayor Lori Lightfoot has offered to delay her $94 million property tax increase until January 2022 and eliminate “carve-outs” in the Welcoming City ordinance without tying it to her budget to ease City Council opposition to her $12.8 billion spending plan. The two additional concessions came after Lightfoot canceled plans to lay off 350 city employees.
- President-elect Joe Biden will reinstate legal protections for “Dreamers” on “day one,” incoming Chief of Staff Ron Klain said yesterday. In 2017, President Trump scrapped Obama-era rules safeguarding “Dreamers” from being deported.
- A Cook County judge who works at the Daley Center has tested positive for the coronavirus, marking the tenth judge countywide to test positive for the virus. The judge last reported to work at the downtown office in October.
A bright one
Lost for decades, the Adler Planetarium’s original Zeiss star projector is back in Chicago
The Zeiss projector, shaped like a giant dumbbell, was an extraordinary feat of engineering, combining multiple lenses and projectors to recreate any night sky in human history and beyond.
“It was magical,” said Michelle Nichols, Adler Planetarium’s director of public observing. “I still have not seen anything that recreates the night sky like those Zeiss projectors.”
Was magical — because the Adler’s last Zeiss projector was dismantled in 2010, as digital technology improved and the lenses, bulbs and perforated disks used to project stars and planets became harder to replace.
For decades, Adler staff heard rumors about the fate of their first projector — a 1930 model that was also the first Zeiss projector installed in the Western Hemisphere — after it was sold in 1969 to the city of Jackson, Mississippi, which had plans to build its own planetarium.
It wasn’t until earlier this year that Adler staff finally tracked down the projector, stored in a barn in Ohio, where an eccentric inventor kept it in its original packing crates for 30 years.
Now home in Chicago, Adler hopes to restore the projector and, if possible, put it back on display.
“We didn’t know where it was for so many years — and nobody knew,” Nichols said. “To be able to actually touch it and see it and play a part in getting it back to us, I never thought I would be that fortunate. It’s just amazing.”
Read Stefano Esposito’s full story here.
From the press box
Bears coach Matt Nagy said the rest of the season could hinge on tonight’s game against the Vikings (7:15 p.m., ESPN, WCIU-26). Before you tune in, Mark Potash shares what he thinks you should watch for in the matchup against an NFC North rival.
Wondering what the Bulls and the teams ahead of them are planning for Wednesday’s NBA Draft? As of today, no one is saying, Joe Cowley writes.
And despite some reports, Arizona prosecutors are not dropping DUI charges against White Sox manager Tony La Russa.
Your daily question ☕
Imagine we gave you a time machine: What would you do differently over the past 8 months?
Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.
Friday, we asked you: Now that a stay-at-home advisory is going into effect in Chicago and suburban Cook County, are you changing your Thanksgiving plans? Here’s what some of you said…
“We were planning on seeing just my husband’s parents and his brother’s family, but decided to cancel based more on the current COVID numbers than the advisory. We can talk to my 80-year-old in-laws on the phone and feel better about them being safe.” — Jamie Sikora
“Yes, we won’t be traveling home to family now. We’ll have a quiet intimate Thanksgiving with immediate family only.” — Sandra K. Limjuco
“Our adult daughters will test, then quarantine for three days. When they join us for Thanksgiving, we will wear masks and open the windows.” — Steve Goldberg
I'm changing mine. I will bring plates to my Mom, and dessert to a select few, but only those with toothbrushes here will be dining for Thanksgiving.— Vonn Barnes (@coffeeinmyleft) November 13, 2020
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