Afternoon Edition: Aug. 17, 2020

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

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Jussie Smollett leaving court in March 2019 after charges against him were dropped.

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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.

It’ll be a sunny afternoon with a high near 85 degrees today. Tonight’s low will be around 65 degrees. Tomorrow, we’ll see more sunshine and a cool down with a high near 78 degrees.

Top story

Special prosecutor finds ‘substantial abuses of discretion’ in Jussie Smollett case as he concludes investigation

Special Prosecutor Dan Webb announced today that he had concluded his investigation into the handling of last year’s Jussie Smollett hate-crime prosecution and found that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and her office made several false and misleading statements about the case.

Webb also found that, though there were unauthorized “leaks” of information by members of the Chicago Police Department, the sources of the leaks could not be identified and evidence would not support criminal charges.

The long-awaited report comes six months after Webb’s office filed a new, six-count indictment charging Smollett for faking a hate crime attack in 2019. However, Webb was also given a mandate to investigate how Foxx and CPD handled the case.

Webb said he found no evidence that would support criminal charges against Foxx or any person working for her. He also said he found no evidence of improper influence by any third party, including by Tina Tchen, the former chief of staff to Michelle Obama, Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and Jurnee Smollett, sister of Jussie Smollett.

The Chicago Police Department declined to comment. In a statement, Foxx’s office said Webb’s report “puts to rest any implications of outside influence or criminal activity on the part of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.” It added that, “any implication that statements made by the (Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office) were deliberately inaccurate is untrue.”

Webb said he had reached “five major final conclusions” relating to the conduct of Foxx and her office. In laying out the details of those conclusions, Webb described how Foxx and her office repeatedly made false and misleading statements about the Smollett case.

In one example, Webb said Foxx and members of her staff came to realize her declared “recusal” in the case was legally defective because Foxx could not simply appoint an “acting state’s attorney.”

Rather, she needed to ask a judge to appoint a special prosecutor. Webb said Foxx and her staff “made the decision to ignore this major legal defect seemingly because they did not want to admit that they had made such a major mistake of judgment regarding State’s Attorney Foxx’s recusal.” He said they went on to “compound the problem” by making false statements to the media about whether she knew about the issue.

Webb also said Foxx made false or misleading statements claiming she had stopped communicating with Jurnee Smollett after Foxx became aware that Jussie Smollett had become a subject of the investigation. Foxx learned by Feb. 8, 2019 that Jussie Smollett had become a suspect, but she continued to communicate with Jurnee Smollett until Feb. 13, including in five text messages and three phone calls, according to Webb.

Webb also pointed to an op-ed Foxx published in the Chicago Tribune in which he said she “falsely represented” that her office believed “the likelihood of securing a conviction was not certain.”

Read Jon Seidel’s full story here.

More news you need

  1. Illinois colleges and universities are facing multimillion-dollar deficits as they prepare to reopen this fall while the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a huge toll. Meanwhile, students are demanding discounts in tuition and fees — which would create more problems for schools’ bottom lines.
  2. Five people were killed and 59 others were injured in shootings across Chicago over the weekend. A 12-year-old boy and six teenagers were among those wounded.
  3. Tonight’s Democratic Convention schedule includes speeches from Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar and performances by Billy Porter and Maggie Rogers. The lineup kicks off at 8 p.m. CST; watch it here.
  4. Workers at the City Colleges of Chicago have overwhelmingly endorsed a no-confidence vote in the administration, union leaders said today. But the unions, which represent about 2,400 workers at the city’s seven City Colleges, have no timeline for a possible strike vote.
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A bright one

Youth activists in Chicago area reimagining the future

In a summer marked by social justice movements in Chicago and around the country — where protests and rallies decrying police brutality and demanding fair treatment for immigrants have become a daily occurrence — Chicago-area teens are letting their voices be heard.

Diontae Chatman, 17, who is on the youth leadership board for the Chicago Freedom School, has been focused on pushing for police officers to be removed from public schools, an issue that is being discussed across the city as local school councils vote on the matter.

“What does the world look like if we didn’t have police or if we had more resources to support people, to support homelessness?” said Chatman. “What would it look like? Let’s make a change, and let’s not be scared of the change.”


Estefany Hernandez speaks with the media during a protest outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in the South Loop on Aug. 4.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Estefany Hernandez, of Bolingbrook, has spent the past year registering voters, informing the community about the 2020 Census and speaking out for immigrants like herself through the Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project.

The 15-year-old recently spoke at a rally outside of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s office in the Loop about how the federal government is still not allowing people like herself to submit new DACA applications.

“I want to help people in my community,” she said.

Read more about these teen activists in Elvia Malagón’s story.

From the press box

The Bears may have hinted at one potential tweak to the offense today as Cordarrelle Patterson primarily worked out with the running backs for the first day of padded practice. After receiving just 17 carries last season, Patterson could play a larger role in the running game this year. 

And an iconic piece of Chicago sports history has sold for an eye-popping amount: An autographed Michael Jordan jersey, originally worn by the legend during a Bulls game in 1998, sold for $240,000 on Sunday.

Your daily question ☕

Will you be tuning in to the Democratic National Convention tonight? 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.

Friday, we asked you: What are you really doing during Zoom meetings for work? Here’s what some of you said…

“Playing Yahtzee on my phone.” — Alex Nelson

“Paying full attention.” — John Hempill

“Having private Zoom chat convos with my coworkers.” — Katina Weatherspoon

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