Afternoon Edition: Aug. 18, 2020

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

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Chicago Police Department retirements in 2020 are on pace to be higher than in any of the past few years.


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’s a sunny afternoon with a high near 80 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 60 degrees. Tomorrow, more sun, and a high near 82 is in the forecast.

Top story

Chicago cops are retiring at an ‘unheard of’ rate

Chicago police officers have been retiring at double the normal rate recently, raising concerns that the number of new hires won’t keep pace with the number leaving.

Michael Lappe, vice president of the board of trustees for the Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago, said 59 police officers are retiring in August, with another 51 retirements set for next month.

“That’s unheard of,” Lappe said. “We’re seeing double the average number of retirees each month. The average is about 24 a month.”

He said a change in health insurance benefits is a factor, while the police union president blames Mayor Lori Lightfoot for not backing police officers.

Retirements in 2020 are on pace to be higher than in any of the past few years. There were 335 police retirements through the end of July, compared with 475 for all of 2019 and 339 for all of 2018, according to pension records.

Ald. Anthony Beale, former chairman of the city council’s police committee, said he realized retirements were on the rise when he was at police headquarters for a meeting last week.

“From the time I walked in to police headquarters to the time I left, which was about 35 minutes, there were nine or 10 officers who approached me and said they were leaving,” he said. “Every person who walked past me said, ‘Hey, Beale, I’m out of here.’”

John Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police union, said he sees a wave of retirements leaving the city short of cops.

“I have no doubt that it’s going to continue, and I can clearly see a smaller spike within the upper ranks [of] lieutenants and above,” Catanzara said. “Who wants to stay in this environment? If you have the ability to leave, there is no incentive to stay anymore.

“The mayor doesn’t back us,” he said. “If you have the financial ability to do so, I don’t blame a single soul for leaving.”

For months, Catanzara and Lightfoot have been at odds over police reform and union contract negotiations. Officers are working under a contract that expired in 2017.

Last year, the Chicago Sun-Times reported the department’s staffing was at a 10-year high, with 13,350 officers. In March, the department’s figures showed a total of about 13,100 officers.

Read the full story from Frank Main and Fran Spielman.

More news you need

  1. With attendance down to a trickle due to the pandemic, officials at Chicago’s Navy Pier said today that the lakefront attraction will close Sept. 8 and will not reopen until next spring. The decision means more than 70 local businesses that operate at the pier must close.
  2. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is putting the final touches on an $8 billion-to-$10 billion plan to replace lead service lines carrying water from street mains to roughly 360,000 Chicago homes, mayoral aides said today. Here’s what we know about it so far.
  3. A federal judge has agreed to delay the fall trial of R&B singer R. Kelly, finding that prosecutors had raised legitimate concerns about whether the trial should proceed amid the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber said he would revisit the setting of a trial date in October.
  4. Saddled with a shortfall that’s $700 million and growing, the mayor said she will have no choice but to order employee “layoffs and furloughs” without another round of stimulus money to replace revenue lost during the pandemic. Lightfoot has said repeatedly that raising property taxes is her last resort, and layoffs and furloughs are next to last.
  5. The FOP has filed a complaint with the Illinois Labor Relations Board to protest CPD’s decision to strip “dozens” of officers of their police powers while investigations are pending into complaints filed against them since the death of George Floyd. The complaint claims the decision to sideline officers during pending investigations should only be made if their actions are “going to lead to criminal charges or firing.”
  6. A federal judge in Chicago cut the former king of the Black Disciples’ 45-year drug-conspiracy sentence by a third today, but wouldn’t free Marvel Thompson. The reduced sentence of the ex-leader of one of Chicago’s biggest street gangs came after he filed an appeal under the federal First Step Act.
  7. A video showing a group of people “chilling” at the top of a raised bridge over the Chicago River has gone viral with claims the city lifted the bridge while they were walking across. City officials deny those claims outright, and believe the six people scaled the Franklin-Orleans Street bridge after it was raised.
  8. Tonight’s DNC lineup includes Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, former President Bill Clinton and former second lady Dr. Jill Biden. Watch it here.
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A bright one

‘Lovecraft Country’ star Courtney B. Vance: Cast and crew of color made a grand-scale ‘show in chocolate’

In the aftermath of the New York Times Magazine’s “1619 Project” and HBO’s “The Watchmen,” which showed audiences the horrors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, “Lovecraft Country,” also an HBO series, premiered Sunday, aiming to educate viewers in a similar way.

“It’s not only ‘a show in chocolate,’ but it’s also a huge action flick,” said actor Courtney B. Vance, whose character (George Freeman) is the publisher of the show’s “Safe Negro Travel Guide,” akin to “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” used to grant Black drivers safe passage through racist areas. 


Courtney B. Vance plays the publisher of the “Safe Negro Travel Guide” on “Lovecraft Country.”


“It was nice to see the color behind and in front of the camera. That’s usually not the case,” said Vance. “Usually, you see some color in front of the camera but not behind the cameras. It’s pretty much a whiteout. But that wasn’t gonna happen with Miss Misha [Green, the series creator], so that was beautiful to see the diaspora, and we all benefited from it.”

Based on author Matt Ruff’s 2016 novel of the same name and filmed largely in and around Chicago, the series follows Atticus “Tic” Black (Jonathan Majors) and his friend Letitia “Leti” Lewis (Jurnee Smollett) through 1950s Jim Crow America. The show’s namesake, H.P. Lovecraft, is a controversial, legendary sci-fi/horror author whose racism looms large in his books.

As for shooting in Chicago, Vance said he loves it when work brings him to the city: “Favorite town in America,” he said. “I love me some Chicago.”

Read Evan F. Moore’s full story and watch a trailer for the series here.

From the press box

The Blackhawks try to keep their slim Stanley Cup hopes alive again tonight in Game 5 against Golden Knights (9:30 p.m. CT, NBCSCH). One area that’s been critical so far? A penalty kill that’s kept the Vegas power play scoreless through four games.

And the Bears added some intrigue to the backend of their quarterback depth chart by trying out Kevin Hogan, Kyle Sloter and Mason Fine today. Tyler Bray is currently the team’s third QB behind Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles.

Your daily question ☕

What activities are you less likely to go back to post-pandemic?

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 if you were tuning into the Democratic National Convention this week. Here’s what some of you said…

“I’ll watch some of it, but as a general rule I don’t like political speeches. Too many platitudes and generalizations. I prefer to read what is proposed without the hubris.” — Gary A. Lucas

“I’ll be watching tonight to see what their strategy is for this year. I will also watch the Republican convention as well. It’s important to listen to both sides, so you’re an informed voter. Part of the problem is that most people only listen to one side.” — Robin McCarthy

“Yes, we always watch convention coverage, have for 50 years. We will watch the Republican convention, too ... Politics has always engaged us. Our son was asked one time if he had voted. He said, ‘Do you know who raised me’?” — Kaye Grabbe

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

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