Afternoon Edition: Aug. 24, 2020

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

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Nathan Wallace Jr., 29, sits at the kitchen table at his brother’s Far South Side home, discussing the death of his 7-year-old daughter, Natalia Wallace.

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.

It’s hot out there, and will be for the next few days. This afternoon will be sunny with a high near 94 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 75 degrees. Tomorrow, morning showers and thunderstorms are possible before more sun and a high near 92 degrees.

Top story

‘When they killed her, they killed me, too’: A single dad deals with his daughter’s death

Every day, Nathan Wallace returns to the tree where his 7-year-old daughter was killed.

The tree, once inconspicuous, is now decorated with ribbons, stuffed animals, flowers and a purple cross. It’s a memorial to Natalia Wallace, shot in front of her grandmother’s home in Austin while playing with her cousins on the Fourth of July.

Wallace spends hours inside his car, watching the tree. It’s the only thing that brings him comfort. Sometimes, it’s the only thing that helps him sleep.

“I feel bad that I even smile or laugh knowing that my baby is in the ground, and I feel like I let her down. I was supposed to be there to protect her,” Wallace said, as tears started to pour down his cheeks. “When they killed her, they killed me, too.”

When the sudden death of a child is compounded by the trauma of gun violence, immediate intervention is needed, according to Dr. Candice Norcott, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Chicago.

“It’s not that you can’t be sad or you can’t cry, but it is to show you how to handle those emotions,” said Norcott, who counsels trauma victims. 

Wallace is already worried about some of his own behavior. He’s drinking more than usual. He feels closed off emotionally. And there are mood swings — he sometimes lashes out at his brother without realizing what he’s saying.

“There is a sense of ‘I should never be allowed to be happy again because it is disrespectful to my child,’” Norcott said. “But we are left to experience joy and I invite parents to remember their child as a loving spirit in life … they can honor their child by remembering the joy of their life as well as the pain of loss.”

Wallace plans to speak with someone — just not now, he said. Now, the single father’s focus is working his two jobs (one as a certified nursing assistant, the other doing pizza delivery) and raising his three other children.

Overall, gun deaths among people age 17 and younger in Chicago is nearly the same this year as it was last year at this time. But it has grown among younger children. The number of children 13 years old and younger killed in shootings so far this year in Chicago already far surpasses all of last year. That’s six this year, compared to just one in all of 2019, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner. It is the most gun-violence deaths in that age group since the medical examiner started publishing the data in 2014.

Since 2010, Chicago Survivors has made it its mission to visit every homicide scene in the city and connect with the victims’ families. The non-profit provides grief support, helps with funeral expenses and explains to victims their rights in terms of talking to police or viewing their loved one’s body.

“The sooner that a person addresses the trauma that they are experiencing, the more likely they are able to transition through all the stages of grief and move forward with their life,” said Oji Eggleston, executive director of Chicago Survivors.

For Wallace, those first hours after his daughter died are still a blur, but he does believe someone from Chicago Survivor called him.

He plans to call them back.

Read Manny Ramos’ full story here.

More news you need

  1. Protesters set cars on fire, smashed windows and clashed with officers in riot gear after Kenosha police shot and wounded a Black man, apparently in the back, while responding to a call about a domestic dispute overnight. Our journalists went to Kenosha to talk to the neighbors who saw it all unfold.
  2. Five people were killed and 61 others, including three teenage boys, were injured in shootings across Chicago this weekend. Surging summer gun violence has prompted activists to call for Gov. J.B. Pritzker to declare a state of emergency and have the National Guard deployed to the city.
  3. A gathering of several families swimming and playing volleyball at a private inland Lake County beach in late July led to 16 positive cases of COVID-19. It’s a startling reminder of what health officials have been warning about for months: The virus can be transmitted outside as well as indoors, and children are at risk of infection just like adults.
  4. City planners have solicited development proposals for three neighborhoods prioritized under Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Invest South/West program, hoping for ideas that will draw more investment to the surrounding blocks. The proposals cover commercial stretches in Auburn Gresham, Austin and Englewood that officials believe are ripe for improvement.
  5. A new class of police officers is joining the Chicago Police Department, entering the police force during the coronavirus pandemic and heightened civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. The 81 new probationary police officers will be trained, mentored and evaluated over the next three months.
  6. The Republican Party formally nominated President Donald Trump for a second term today, one of the first acts of a GOP convention that has been dramatically scaled down to prevent the spread of the COVID-19. Watch it here.
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A bright one

Some of Chicago’s top athletes spent $500K to raze a liquor store

Motivated by the police killing of George Floyd and subsequent protests, some of Chicago’s most prominent athletes took a bus tour of the South Austin neighborhood in early June. They found a food desert — one grocery store and 10 liquor stores.

They made a promise before they stepped off the bus. A half-million dollars and less than 11 weeks later, they delivered.

Led by former Bears linebacker Sam Acho, who first recruited the other athletes for the bus tour, the group purchased Belmonte Cut Rate Liquor next door to the By the Hand Club for Kids. They knocked down the building and on Wednesday replaced it with a pop-up grocery store, Austin Harvest, run by kids from the club’s after-school program.


Former Bears linebacker Sam Acho poses with members of By the Hand Club for Kids at the opening of their fresh food mart Wednesday in South Austin.


“It started with that vision,” Acho said. “We just had the vision of using all our sadness and our anger and channeling it into the right direction.”

It cost $500,000 to buy the building, raze it and replace it with a temporary structure. Donations from $1,000 to $100,000 came from a who’s-who of local athletes. And Acho’s work isn’t done with the grocery store. It will be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 3 to 6 p.m. — but only for 12 weeks. By then, he hopes to find a way to have a more permanent structure on the property.

“The pop-up thing is temporary,” he said. “When it gets cold, we’ve got to figure something out.”

Read Patrick Finley’s full story here.

From the press box

Everyone wants to know who’s going to win the Bears’ quarterback battle, but one week into an underwhelming competition, the real winner seems to be the rest of the league, writes Jason Lieser. 

And coming off a coronavirus scare over the weekend caused by a series of false positives in testing, the Bears got a taste of the chaos that’ll accompany a season unlike any before it. ‘‘This is definitely the year of the contingency plan,’’ coach Matt Nagy said Sunday. 

Your daily question ☕

Will you be tuning in to the Republican National Convention this week? 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’s on your list of things to do before the summer’s over? Here’s what some of you said…

“Kayak on Chicago River and try an electric scooter.” — Emily Dodd

“Visit Navy Pier before it closes after Labor Day.” — Ginny Clausen

“Register to vote by mail.” — @hobanoris on Twitter

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

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