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Dnigma Howard shudders every time she sees police, her father says.
The 18-year-old can’t get past the day she was shoved into a stairway by a Chicago police officer stationed within Marshall Metropolitan High School — then dragged by her leg down two flights of 30 stone steps with sharp metal edges.
Laurentio Howard was at Marshall when it all happened: “To have to stand back, to not be able to help my daughter being brutalized by officers sworn to protect her, was one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced,” he said.
As the killing of George Floyd reignites national debate over stationing police in schools — with at least four major cities eliminating the controversial practice — we caught up with Howard, a 49-year-old single dad, and his daughter, who graduated May 20 from Innovations High School.
Dnigma, who attended school with an Individualized Education Plan mandated for special needs students, was 16 when the incident occurred Jan. 29, 2019, over a report that she was using her cellphone in class.
Video taken by another student of the violent response by the two officers, which contradicted police reports, surfaced after the incident. We published the video then, and Officers Johnny Pierre and Sherry Tripp were immediately removed from the school. Two felony counts of aggravated battery that had been lodged against Dnigma over the incident were subsequently dropped.
“I just really couldn’t believe how my daughter was the one beaten like that, then charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor, and taken to jail. All I could think was, ‘She’s 16, and her life is destroyed,’” her father said.
The police report accused Dnigma of initiating the incident, causing her and the two officers to fall down the stairs. The video shows Pierre initiating contact, shoving her into the stairway, then dragging her down. Officers later Tased her three times.
“If this isn’t a prime example of the problem with police in schools, I don’t know what is,” Dnigma’s father said.
Chicago’s school board will decide this week whether to terminate the $33 million contract between CPS and the Chicago Police Department, effectively removing officers from schools. It’s unclear if enough board members will support the proposal for it to succeed.
Activists cite research findings about the impact of the school-to-prison pipeline in calling for spending to be redirected to student support services. Lightfoot says the decision should be left to local school councils.
Howard cringes at the thought of such an incident happening to another student. Dnigma had struggled after her 13-year-old brother, Darriel, died from an asthma attack when she was 9. And her mother died June 2, just two weeks after Dnigma’s high-school graduation.
“To this day, she cannot sleep a full night from the nightmare of what happened that day. She wakes up screaming, so I’m in her room in the middle of the night, calming her,” he said. “We’re still going to counseling.”
More news you need
- Fourteen people were killed and at least 90 others were wounded in citywide shootings over Father’s Day weekend, marking the worst weekend for gun violence this year. A toddler and four teenagers were among those killed, and seven other minors were struck by gunfire.
- After three months under lockdown because of the coronavirus, the Lakefront and 606 trails officially reopened today to joggers, cyclists and pedestrians. Visitors are required to wear a face mask, stay at least six feet away from others and “keep it moving.”
- Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration today released safety guidance for the state’s next phase of reopening, which allows indoor restaurant services, gyms and museums to open with capacity limits beginning Friday. Here’s what you can expect.
- In Chicago, Phase 4 will include the reopening of Lincoln Park Zoo, but by reservation only; the return of gyms, where face masks will be required; and the reopening of theaters and other venues to audiences of 50 or fewer. The city guidelines generally follow the state rules, though the state’s capacity restrictions are looser in some areas.
A bright one
Second City alum Rebecca Drysdale now is helping to shape “The Tonight Show.” And she’s doing it in her pajamas.
As the head writer since April, she came aboard just after social distancing rules drove host Jimmy Fallon out of 30 Rock in New York to fronting the show from his home, which is by no means a TV studio, but does have some phones and an indoor slide.
Drysdale plunged into the work and, from her home in Los Angeles, is working with “Tonight Show” writers and producers mostly over Zoom. “I’m meeting all these people from the shoulders up,” she said.
For many TV veterans, the transition into quarantine production, with guests patching in from their kitchens and crew members contributing from several miles or several states away, has been wrenching. But Drysdale says she’s finding it sort of thrilling.
“I come from Chicago, where I was doing shows with two chairs and one light,” she said. “So I don’t feel limited. I feel like it’s a fun opportunity to figure out, ‘What can we do with these limitations? What can we do that we couldn’t even do live?’ I think that’s a fun challenge.”
An Ohio native, Drysdale fell into comedy while in college and moved to Chicago with a classmate, Jordan Peele, the future “Get Out” and “Us” writer-director. Drysdale co-wrote and performed at Second City e.t.c. in the early 2000s and worked on “Key & Peele,” “Baskets,” “High Maintenance” and the revival of “All That” before landing at Fallon’s show.
From the press box
The Bears drafted cornerback Jaylon Johnson in the second round as a replacement for departed veteran Prince Amukamara, but secondary coach Deshea Townsend says not to sleep on third-year pro Kevin Toliver, who made one start in each of his first two seasons.
Horse racing fans also got some welcome news this morning asArlington International Racecourseannounced plans to resume races at the track starting in July.
Your daily question☕
Do you plan on flying anywhere this summer? Tell us about your plans, and what you’ll do to stay safe.
Email us(please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.
On Friday, we asked you how you planned to keep cool despite Chicago’s beaches and pools being closed. Here’s what some of you said…
“Staying at home in the air conditioning. Watching TV and crocheting.”— Maureen Dombrowski
“Backyard inflatable pools. Sprinklers. Slip and slide type things. And beer, plenty of of cold beer.”— Brice Notardonato Ellett
“Slushies, ice cream and central air.”— Nancy Yetter Schultz
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