Afternoon Edition: Aug. 12, 2020

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

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R. Kelly walks with supporters into the Daley Center in Chicago for a hearing in a child support case in March 2019.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/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.

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Afternoon Edition

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.

We’ve got a sunny and hot afternoon in store: Today’s high will be near 86 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 67 degrees. Tomorrow? Even hotter, with a high near 87 degrees in the forecast.

Top story

Three arrested in scheme to threaten, bribe alleged victims of R. Kelly

Federal prosecutors in New York say they have charged three people in separate schemes to harass, intimidate and bribe the alleged victims of R&B singer R. Kelly, who faces charges there and in Chicago.

Criminal complaints have been unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn charging Richard Arline Jr., Donnell Russell and Michael Williams in the schemes, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn.

Arline was arrested in Dolton and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Young Kim in Chicago, prosecutors said. His scheme allegedly involved discussing a $500,000 payment to a victim to keep her from cooperating with the government, according to the feds.

During a recorded phone call, Arline allegedly claimed he had been in touch with Kelly while Kelly was behind bars via a three-way call with another person. Arline allegedly said, “If I had a way to talk to Rob (Kelly), being next to him and telling him what’s going on, without nobody listening to, no feds, nobody, he gonna pay her … off to be quiet,” adding she’s “got too much. She got too much.”

Russell is accused of harassing and intimidating an alleged Kelly victim after she filed a lawsuit against Kelly. The feds say he threatened to reveal sexually explicit photos of her and to publicly reveal her sexual history if she did not withdraw her lawsuit. Using an alias, he also allegedly created a Facebook page called “Surviving Lies” — a play on the title of the documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” — and posted screen shots of text messages between Kelly and the victim.

Williams is separately accused of setting fire in June to an SUV parked outside a Florida home where an alleged Kelly victim and others had been staying.

Kelly is charged with child pornography and obstruction of justice in a federal indictment in Chicago, and he faces a separate federal racketeering indictment in Brooklyn. For more than a year, he has been held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago. His legal team repeatedly sought to have him freed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. They are now challenging his detention before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

However, prosecutors have repeatedly suggested Kelly might try to interfere with the case against him. Early this year, they said a prison staff member gave Kelly permission to use a telephone to contact a third party — a call that “was not recorded and obviously circumvented the protocols in place to ensure monitoring of the defendant’s communications.”

Kelly’s lawyers have said he “simply has no means or method by which to engage in any obstructive conduct.”

Read Jon Seidel’s full story here.

More news you need

  1. Monday’s derecho, which spawned at least seven tornadoes, was one of the most powerful and devastating storms to hit Northern Illinois in a decade, a top official with ComEd said. Of the roughly 850,000 customers who lost power, about 80 percent had their electricity back this morning.
  2. Family members are left picking up the pieces after a horrific fire at a Gage Park home that claimed the life of a 4-year-old girl this morning. Nine other people were also in the house; they went to stay with other relatives because the home is now uninhabitable.
  3. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said her 12-year-old daughter was “beside herself with joy” when she heard that Joe Biden put Kamala Harris, a woman of color and daughter of immigrants, on the Democratic presidential ticket. She said President Donald Trump “is underestimating the unifying factor that she’s going to bring to this election.”
  4. Downtown will be ravaged again by looters unless the mayor imposes a curfew and strictly enforces it by impounding caravans that haul away stolen goods after using city trucks to pin them in, says the president of theFOP.John Catanzara says until looters realize “they’re not going to be allowed to just roam and destroy,” they’ll keep coming back.
  5. New rules have been adopted to break ties between applicants seeking licenses to sell recreational weed, resolving an administrative hurdle that has contributed to a lengthy delay in issuing the new permits. The government is expected to begin issuing 75 new licenses in September, more than three months after they were initially slated to be doled out.
  6. A group of African American activists are demanding Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov. J.B. Pritzker end their “deafening silence” about the planned closure of Mercy Hospital & Medical Center and the fight to keep it open. Mercy has struggled with financial problems for decades, due in part to a declining population in the surrounding neighborhoods.
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A bright one

City kicks off second e-scooter pilot

They’re back! E-scooters will begin popping up across the city again today as Chicago launches its second e-scooter pilot program.

Three companies — Bird, Lime and Spin — will be allowed to distribute 9,999 scooters across Chicago; 3,333 scooters per company. The scooters, which travel up to 15 mph, will be available for operation between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Helmets are encouraged, but not required.

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A worker wheels a Lime scooter into a warehouse in West Town Wednesday morning, Aug. 12, 2020. Lime deployed 1,000 scooters across Chicago today.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

This year’s four-month pilot is different from last year’s initial trial in several ways. Unlike last year, when the city fielded numerous complaints about scooters being left on sidewalks, the city has baked in safety measures aimed to keep them out of the way of pedestrians when not in use: The scooters will be equipped with locks that require riders to lock the device to a fixed object — such as bike racks, street signs, retired Chicago parking meters (but not bus stop signs) — to end their trip.

The boundaries in which the scooters will be able to operate have been expanded and will include nearly all parts of Chicago except the lakefront trail, the 606 trail and the city’s central business district, which includes the Loop and other portions of the downtown area.

Read the full story from Mitch Dudek.

From the press box

Rick Renteria says Matt Foster, the 2016 20th-round pick emerging in the Sox bullpen, pitches with “guts.” For a team in need of relief help, that fearlessness has been a perfect fit so far.

Maybe the rest of the team could use some of that attitude, too: Dallas Keuchel, who recently criticized his teammates for just going through the motions, isn’t the only one calling for a greater sense of urgency, writes Daryl van Schouwen.

Your daily question☕

Will you be using e-scooters to get around the city now that they’re back? Tell us why, or why not.

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: Once there’s a COVID-19 vaccine available, will you get it?Here’s what some of you said…

“I will shoot it into my eyeball if it gets things back to normal.” —Jonathan Eftink

“Yes. When I was a kid, we got the polio vaccine as soon as available because my mother (a nurse) believed in them and my youngest sister took part in the first group of school kids to try what was then an experimental vaccine. Vaccines should be mandated for all kids in school— no religious exceptions — only medical ones.”— Kaye Grabbe

“I will treat the situation like the new iPhone releases. The first batch needs to be tested first then I’ll follow suit once all the kinks are out.”— Ava Nicole

“Nope, I know what a sketchy scam the FDA approval process is.” —Ken Jackson

Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition.Got a story you think we missed?Email us here.

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