Afternoon Edition: Jan. 20, 2021

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

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Matt Schreck, 43, and his husband, Fernando Gutierrez, 41, get emotional as they watch the inauguration ceremony for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris from their South Loop home, Wednesday morning, Jan. 20, 2021.

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.

This afternoon will be sunny and breezy with wind gusts up to 30 mph and a high near 32 degrees. Tonight will be mostly clear with a low around 27 degrees. Tomorrow will bring more sun and a high near 36 degrees.

Top story

For immigrants in Chicago, a sign of ‘relief’ as Biden is sworn in as president

For the past five years, Fernando Gutierrez has felt like the Trump administration used immigrants like him as a “boogie man” to advance its agenda.

“I’m a special ed teacher, I’m gay and I was born in Mexico,” Gutierrez said. “It felt like for the last five years — that’s how long Trump became relevant — he just used people like me as a scapegoat for his agenda.”

Today, Gutierrez, 41, took the day off from work and wrapped his arms around his husband and cried as they watched from their South Loop living room Joe Biden sworn in as president.

“So surreal,” Gutierrez said as he stood in front of the television.

Soon Gutierrez and his husband, Matt Schreck, celebrated by standing on their balcony, waiving rainbow, American and Mexican flags while blasting Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.”

After four years of hard-line immigration policies, some immigrants like Gutierrez are hopeful the new Biden administration will bring relief to these communities. Biden walks into the White House promising to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

Ali Sharifi Tarokh, 35, of West Ridge, felt so insecure about his accent and name during the Trump era that he decided to change his name when he became a naturalized citizen. Tarokh, a refugee from Iran who arrived in the U.S. in 2012, was able to vote for president for the first time last year.

“[Trump] reminded us that the shadow of fascism is always close to us,” he said. “And we have to watch our democracy every day.”

He had goosebumps this morning just thinking about the inauguration and the change in leadership. He watched the ceremony from his job and felt a sigh of relief.

“It was great to see some dignity to our nation,” he said.

Read Elvia Malagón’s full story on local immigrants’ reaction to President Biden’s inauguration.

More news you need

  1. Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s summer plans to reinvigorate the city’s economy include a “reunion weekend” inviting Black people who have left Chicago to “come back home.” Lightfoot, on an MSNBC panel, said she has “great plans for re-introducing Chicago to the nation.”
  2. More than 29,000 coronavirus vaccinations were administered in Illinois yesterday, public health officials said. At the same time, the state reported 4,822 new cases of COVID-19 and an additional 107 deaths related to the virus.
  3. Sixteen years after he allegedly took part in one of the Chicago Police Department’s biggest scandals, the department has moved to fire officer Thomas Sherry. In November, Supt. David Brown filed administrative charges against Sherry, who was assigned to the disgraced and disbanded Special Operations Section from 2002-06.
  4. A Lombard man serving a life sentence for participating in a drug conspiracy was among those granted clemency by President Donald Trump last night before the end of his term. Craig Cesal, 61, got in trouble for leasing tractor-trailers to marijuana smugglers almost two decades ago.
  5. City Hall remained closed today as a precaution amid nationwide threats of violence on Inauguration Day. The closure was “purely precautionary,” the county and OEMC said in a joint statement.
  6. After two lonely months, the dinosaurs of the Field Museum will be welcoming guests back into their habitat this week. The comeback begins with members-only days tomorrow and Friday, and the general public will be admitted starting Saturday.
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A bright one

Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem called ‘breathtakingly stunning’ by Illinois’ top poet: ‘I’d be proud to have a granddaughter like her’

Following in the footsteps of Maya Angelou and Robert Frost, Amanda Gorman wrote her way into history today with her performance at the inauguration of President Biden.

Unlike Frost — who was 86 when he became the first poet to speak at presidential inaugural in 1961 — or Angelou, who was 64 when she spoke at the 1993 inaugural, Gorman is just 22 — the youngest poet to speak at a presidential inauguration.

“It was so rich and just so filled with truth,” Illinois poet laureate Angela Jackson told our Rachel Hinton after watching Gorman on television. “I was stunned that she was so young and so wise.”

Gorman became the nation’s first youth poet laureate, a title bestowed upon her in 2017. At the inauguration, the Los Angeles native delivered her poem “The Hill We Climb,” which touched on the themes of unity and healing Biden and others alluded to in their own speeches during the inauguration.

Jackson, an award-winning poet, novelist and playwright, grew up on Chicago’s South Side and was appointed poet laureate of the state last November by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, making her the fifth Illinoisan to hold the honorary position.

Asked her age, Jackson laughed and said “I’m not 22 ... I’m old enough to be [Gorman’s] grandmother — and I’d be proud to have a granddaughter like her.”

Read Rachel Hinton’s full story here.

From the press box

The IHSA will allow unlimited contact days for fall, spring and summer sports starting on Jan. 25, which means coaches will be able to meet with their players and hold practices. All IHSA sports have been on pause since Nov. 20.

And while the Blackhawks’ fourth straight loss spoiled a nice night for some of their young players, veteran Andrew Shaw’s puck retrieval efforts on the power play are making a difference so far, Ben Pope writes.

Your daily question ☕

How do you feel about the future of our country following the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris? Tell us why.

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: How have you decluttered or made your home more comfortable amid the pandemic? Here’s what some of you said...

“It’s been fantastic for that. Being home more, wanting it to be cozy and welcoming. I’ve gotten rid of several things, bought a few pillows and a piece of art, rearranged, deep cleaned. It feels good.” — Carol Ohana

“We’ve added 4 pets. It hasn’t helped at all, but our house is a lot more cuddly.” — Scott Baker

We gave so many clothes and toys to local charities. The kids feel good for knowing they helped.” — Jeannette Wachewicz Valtierra

I dispose of at least 3 useless things from each room that I enter, daily.” — Vickie Townsend

“We’ve added a baby and all the gear for baby, so not at all ... but there’s a whole lot of joy and love!” — Victoria Moore

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

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