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South Side business owners struggle to stay afloat after pandemic, looting: ‘I’m in here working on a prayer’
For decades, Tess Porter has styled hair and sold beauty products out of her shop in West Englewood. But in recent days, continuing her work has become increasingly difficult.
Porter, 53, has outstanding utility bills from the roughly three months when she couldn’t open her business because of Illinois’ stay-at-home order. Then, days before she was set to welcome clients back, her windows were smashed and many of her supplies and products were stolen during the looting that followed protests demanding justice for the death of George Floyd.
“I’m in here working on a prayer,” said Porter, who is working inside her boarded-up salon.
She is among the South Side business owners who are struggling to stay afloat after days of unrest damaged their livelihoods. Many said the destruction has exacerbated the economic troubles they were already facing because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ja’Mal Green, a community activist, and Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives announced yesterday that about $220,000 has been raised so far to give up to $5,000 to black-owned businesses that were vandalized as soon as this week.
Nathaniel Pendleton, the father of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot to death in 2013, is among those expected to get a check from the organization. The damage to his South Chicago soul food eatery, The New Look Restaurant, won’t be completely covered by his insurance, so he plans to use the money to repair his window, floors and replace a stolen television.
Others like Porter, who owns Tess’s Place Style Shop, have found it difficult to navigate getting help. She is waiting to see if insurance will cover any of the damage. She also never received a federal stimulus check, and still isn’t sure why, and the last time she sought a grant, she was told she would have to pay money out of pocket.
“The city needs to come out and assess and help,” Porter said. “These were very hard hits. We were off for three months, and then to come back to the destroyed businesses, it’s almost impossible.”
In Fuller Park, Dr. Stephanie Johnson-Brown is hopeful she’ll start seeing patients tomorrow at Plano Vision Center, located in a strip mall that is now lined with boarded-up businesses. Johnson-Brown, who said about 90% of her eyeglass frames were stolen, is among those who will receive a grant from Green’s collaboration with the Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives.
Even before the unrest, Johnson-Brown said she was often asked why she didn’t relocate to another part of the city. In moments like that, she says she thinks about her father, who started the optometry practice in 1959, and the lessons he taught her about community.
“Those are my people, and therefore, I’m here for them,” she said about the neighborhood. “I’m not going anywhere.”
More news you need
- Mayor Lori Lightfoot has accused Ald. Ray Lopez of “illegally” taping her May 31 phone call with aldermen upset about looting and mayhem in their wards and “leaking” the part that included a profane exchange between them. Lopez, Lightfoot’s most outspoken critic on the City Council, denied the accusation.
- Over a week after a series of break-ins at Chicago pot shops temporarily halted sales of legal cannabis across the city, two dispensary operators say that efforts to make repairs and bolster security will likely keep their doors closed for weeks. While The Herbal Care Center may reopen in as little as two weeks, Mission could be shuttered for up to two months.
- The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled today that a Chicago infant’s death in March was caused by COVID-19. The ruling marks a rare death of a baby from the coronavirus.
- Mayor Lori Lightfoot today announced a $5 million cash assistance program for 300,000 Chicago residents excluded from receiving federal stimulus checks. Those Chicagoans will get $1,000 per eligible household, the mayor said.
- Under a new mayoral plan made to stave off a wave of evictions, Chicago landlords would be prohibited from evicting tenants whose finances have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic without first trying to negotiate with them. Fran Spielman explains what that would look like.
- Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed a $42.9 billion “maintenance” budget that’s largely reliant on borrowing and the hope that the federal government will continue to help Illinois with COVID-19 assistance. Democrats say the budget gives the state a lifeline in a world of uncertainty.
A bright one
We may not be able to go to the movies right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t watch new, award-worthy films on your couch, like Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Blood,” which comes out Friday on Netflix.
Our film critic Richard Roeper says this is one of the best movies of the year: “It deserves close to a dozen nominations.” He gives it 4/4 stars, a distinction few flicks ever receive.
The story centers around Paul (Delroy Lindo), a Vietnam veteran who has been adrift ever since returning home from the war. In addition to feeling first reviled and then forgotten by his country, Paul suffered a tragic personal loss, leaving him closed off, tightly wound and close to unraveling. He is haunted by PTSD, and in his dreams, he is visited by the ghost of a fallen comrade.
Pauls brothers in arms are Eddie (Norm Lewis), Otis (Clarke Peters) and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), who return to Vietnam to find the remains of their fallen squad leader Norman (Chadwick Boseman in flashback sequences) and bring him home for a hero’s burial. Oh, and there’s also the matter of a buried chest filled with gold bars, and before that combined mission is over, a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears will be spilled.
From the press box
The first round of the 2020 MLB Draft will go on virtually tonight with the Cubs and White Sox each selecting among the first 16 picks. It’ll be the first big test for new Cubs vice president of scouting Dan Kantrovitz, who will look to end the North Siders’ spell of underwhelming top picks.
For the Sox, who have a new director of amateur scouting in Mike Shirley, the goal will be to continue adding to one of the most impressive groups of young talent in the game with the No. 11 overall pick.
Your daily question ☕
How do you plan on spending your summer vacation this year?
Email us (please include your name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.
Yesterday, we asked you to tell us about your best Father’s Day gift ideas for this year. Here’s what some of you said…
“A beer brewing kit would be a good gift.” — Tami Goldmann
“Flying in some crawfish from NOLA for a boil!” — Laurie Lopez
“A 55 gallon fish tank with all the accessories.” — Justa E. Zeno
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