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Afternoon Edition: June 19, 2020

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

Dean Thompson enters her South Loop apartment on Thursday. She said her landlord was among those skirting the law rather than going through the courts to evict her.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

It’s hot out! This afternoon will be mostly sunny, with a high near 92 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 71 degrees. This weekend, showers and thunderstorms are in the forecast for both days. Saturday will be partly sunny with a high near 89 degrees, and Sunday’s high is expected to be around 84 degrees.

Top story

Despite coronavirus eviction ban, some Chicago landlords are locking out tenants

Despite a ban on evicting tenants during the coronavirus pandemic, some Chicago landlords have used illegal lockouts and other threats to push out tenants struggling to pay their rent.

Calls about illegal lockouts in Chicago have roughly doubled from mid-March to mid-June compared to normal monthly averages, according to the Metropolitan Tenants Organization, a not-for-profit agency focused on affordable, safe and accessible housing.

Advocates worry this is a sign that legal eviction filings will balloon once Chicago’s housing court reopens.

“The reality is that COVID has bared a housing market that is in crisis,” said John Bartlett, executive director of the tenants group, which he said fielded 125 calls about illegal lockouts from March 18 through June 18, an average of 41 a month compared to last year’s monthly average of 22. “It was in crisis before. And all this does is make it worse.”

Dean Thompson said her landlord was among those skirting the law rather than going through the courts to evict her. Thompson said the electricity to the apartment she shares with her daughter was suddenly turned off in May on the morning of her 67th birthday.

Days earlier, a man from the rental company had banged on the door, she said: “He was just going off. He was saying stuff like, ‘I’m paying your bills,’ ‘You need to just move, go someplace, you know, go to a homeless place.’”

Her family already was two months behind on the $1,350 monthly rent and subject to eviction when the coronavirus hit, after a rough financial patch for her daughter’s small business that worsened during the stay-at-home order.

Thompson says she told the man through her closed door that her daughter was working on a solution. “It made me real scared,” she said of the encounter. “I didn’t know what he was going to do. I was scared to leave the building.”

Her daughter called 311, and a city worker told her the shutoff was illegal. Then she called the landlord, who at first denied doing it — but then, 15 minutes later, the lights came back on. Their dispute continues.

Bartlett said shutting off electricity is one way to push tenants out. Other tactics to force them out include turning off the water, changing the locks or doing a phony repair that leaves an essential appliance unusable.

“We’ve even had landlords come and take toilets out of the unit,” Bartlett said. “None of it’s legal.”

Read Stephanie Zimmermann’s full story here. If you’ve been illegally evicted during the coronavirus pandemic and want to share your story, email her here.

More news you need

  1. Indoor restaurants will be able to reopen next Friday, the same day the state enters Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Phase 4 of reopening. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said restaurants will be open to 25% capacity, with a maximum of 50 people allowed per room or floor.
  2. Charges have been dropped against a 28-year-old man whose attorney said he was punched multiple times in the head by a Chicago police officer while he was handcuffed on June 12. Video of the incident appears to show the officer tackling and then repeatedly striking Sterlin Boston during the arrest in West Garfield Park.
  3. Even as the economy reopens, many people hoping to get back to work will find few jobs waiting for them, some experts say. One reason why? Employers worried about the future are slow to hire, challenging job seekers at all levels.
  4. The chief of the Illinois Department of Public Health shared her thoughts on when she personally will feel safe partaking in certain activities. The Cliff’s Notes version: No hugs or handshakes for a year and no restaurants until the end of the summer.
  5. When Creekside Middle School in Woodstock opened in 2007, art teacher Jeriel McGinness couldn’t stand the bare walls. So he got to work. The result: Colorful mosaics now fill the halls and much of the school grounds.

A bright one

Thousands march, dance downtown to celebrate Juneteenth, demand justice

Thousands of people converged downtown in two separate celebrations of Juneteenth today, marching and dancing to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.

During the first event, participants marched from the intersection of State Street and Balbo Drive to Daley Plaza for a rally, and were seen having fun along the way, dancing to music from a marching band that led the group. At Daley Plaza, members of the crowd did the Electric Slide in front of the Picasso statue.

Hundreds marched to Daley Plaza today in celebration of Juneteenth, and to demand justice for those brutalized by police.
Victor Hilitski/Sun-Times

Though the event was celebratory in nature, some participants said it was also about demanding justice for victims of police violence.

“The march was so fun, we all danced and celebrated our holiday that people often forget about,” said 24-year-old Denise Richards. “But we are also here to demand justice for our people who have been brutalized by police.”

If you want to celebrate Juneteenth, many other events are planned for this evening, and the rest of the week, like Black Culture Week, which runs until June 28. Here’s our roundup.

Read the full story from Manny Ramos, which also includes scenes from the Grant Park march.

From the press box

Bulls vice president Arturas Karnisovas has had plenty of time to evaluate coach Jim Boylen, so it’s time to decide whether Boylen stays or if he and the team should part ways, Joe Cowley writes.

After a down season in 2019, Bears coaches say Khalil Mack is motivated to bounce back.

And normally the Belmont Stakes is the final leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, but thanks to the coronavirus pandemic shaking up the schedule, Saturday’s race will be the first gem of the crown.

Your daily question ☕

With beaches and pools in Chicago still closed, how to you plan on staying cool this weekend?

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you how you’re celebrating Juneteeth this year. Here’s what some of you said…

“I plan to celebrate it at home with my family enjoying soul food, reading some Black history books, watching some Black history movies and having an overall cultural experience.” — Delicia Harrell

“For the first time, we’re celebrating Juneteenth with a small group of friends and family. It’s a day of remembrance and celebration of Independence.” — Michelle Muñoz

“By buying something from a Black-owned restaurant.” — Jay Rembert

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