Afternoon Edition: Feb. 22, 2021

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

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs a sweeping criminal justice reform bill Monday at Chicago State University.

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 mostly cloudy with a high near 37 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 31 degrees. Tomorrow, sunshine is in the forecast, along with a high near 42 degrees.

Top story

Pritzker signs criminal justice reform bill: ‘A substantial step’ in erasing ‘systemic racism that plagues our communities’

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a sweeping criminal justice bill into law today, moving Illinois closer to ending cash bail and requiring police officers to wear body cameras — moves that critics say will hurt public safety.

But the Democratic governor said the sweeping bill moves Illinois a step closer to “true safety, true fairness and true justice.”

The criminal justice bill was crafted by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus. It passed the General Assembly last month during the Legislature’s lame duck session.

Along with bringing about the end of cash bail in the state, the bill creates a statewide certification program for police officers; mandates three phone calls for detainees; allows for more judicial discretion in sentencing; and, in Cook County, assigns special prosecutors in cases where there are police-involved deaths.

Ahead of the signing, Pritzker said the bill “marks a substantial step toward dismantling the systemic racism that plagues our communities, our state and our nation.”

“Today, thanks to the hard work of so many people and those watching at home, we advance our values into law, progress secured despite the pandemic because of the passion and the push of the Legislative Black Caucus, activists, advocates and residents intent on leaving a better Illinois, for all of our children,” Pritzker said at a bill-signing ceremony at Chicago State University.

Read Rachel Hinton’s full report here.

More news you need

  1. Anjanette Young, the social worker who endured a humiliating botched raid conducted by Chicago police in 2019, has filed another lawsuit against the city. The nine-count lawsuit, which was filed Friday in Cook County Circuit Court, names the city and 12 CPD officers as defendants.
  2. Chicago pot giant Verano Holdings quietly settled a lawsuit in which a Black employee claimed he was fired after being ordered to illegally deliver medical marijuana to military bases in Maryland. The suit filed by Kamal Malaki Hameed was dismissed on Jan. 15 after the two sides agreed to an undisclosed settlement.
  3. State health officials today reported the number of new COVID-19 cases and tests dropped to levels that haven’t been seen since last summer. Officials announced 1,246 new and probable cases of COVID-19, marking the smallest daily caseload reported since July 28.
  4. The rollout of 5G broadband systems and even the pandemic, adding to the need for internet access at home, have juiced demand for data centers. Markets worldwide compete for them, and the Chicago area is a top-rated contender.
  5. In response to the recent surge in carjackings, a South Side Democratic state representative has introduced a bill that would ban the sale of violent video games like “Grand Theft Auto” that depict “psychological harm.” The proposal would amend a 2012 law that already bars some video games from being sold to minors.
  6. A development firm with plans to build on a West Loop parking lot filed a proposal to construct a pair of towers that would eventually offer over 1,000 high-rise apartments. Ald. Brendan Reilly said he plans to spend the next few weeks gathering community feedback before determining next steps.
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A bright one

Companies are marketing cabins as pandemic-safe escapes for city dwellers

After spending nearly a year cooped up by the pandemic, many of us have thought about getting away from home.

But what do you do if vacations that require boarding a plane, checking into a hotel or navigating crowded spaces scare you? An entire outdoor hospitality industry is blossoming to meet this need.

Getaway has opened its first Chicago-area outpost, offering those in the city a chance to escape safely into nature.

Bordered by woods and a small lake, Getaway Barber Creek is in Grand Junction, Michigan, just over two hours from Chicago and will have 41 socially distant cabins available beginning in April.


Getaway’s Barber Creek Outpost, located in Grand Junction, Michigan, is just over two hours outside Chicago and will be available to guests starting April 1.

Michelle Watt/Courtesy of Getaway

Other enterprises offering an isolated experience in Illinois include Glamping Hub, a global luxury outdoor accommodations company, and Hawk Valley Retreat & Cottages in Galena.

Jon Staff, the founder and CEO of Getaway, said a lot of guests in the past year have wanted to get out of their houses and apartments to go somewhere safe without a lobby, restaurant, other people, or the pressures of work and staring at a Zoom screen.

“Nature is really good for reducing our stress and anxiety, which I think we need now more than ever,” Staff said.

Read Mari Devereaux’s full story on the booming outdoor hospitality industry here.

From the press box

With time running out for the Bears and Allen Robinson before the franchise tag deadline, GM Ryan Pace faces a major quandary: Buy time to negotiate a long-term deal by using the tag – or risk alienating a productive star player who embodies the culture the franchise cherishes.

When the Blackhawks face the Blue Jackets later this week, it’ll be worth watching Dylan Strome and whether the center can reclaim some of his lost minutes in Jeremy Colliton’s lineup. February hasn’t been kind to Strome, who’s only recorded eight points in 19 games this season.

Your daily question ☕

IFun question on whatever the hot topic of the day is.

Reply to this email (please include your first name and where you live) and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

On Friday, we asked you: In honor of the recent opening of the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit in Old Town, who’s your favorite painter? Here’s what some of you said...

“Jackson Pollock and Claude Monet. I’ve always liked their works. Pollock because of his abstract work and Monet because of the water lilies.” — Ken Neth

“[Claude] Monet ... there is movement in the art ... I could sit for hours.” — Tim Buckenmyer

“Stanisław Szukalski. He is best known for his sculptures but his paintings (as well as his sculptures) are mind-blowing.” — Eric Bridgewater

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