Afternoon Edition: Feb. 23, 2021

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

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Patrick John Flueger as Det. Adam Ruzek (right)

Matt Dinerstein/NBC

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 partly sunny with a high near 47 degrees, making it the warmest day of the year so far. Tonight’s low will be around 38 degrees. Tomorrow will be partly sunny with a high near 40 degrees.

Top story

‘Chicago P.D.’ star says the show, criticized as ‘copaganda,’ now is ‘trying to turn a page’

When “Chicago P.D.” actor Patrick John Flueger takes a look at past episodes of the hit NBC series, he views certain scenes in a new light.

What Flueger is seeing, critics say, is “copaganda,” a tendency of TV series to depict police officers solely as heroes.

“I’ll be frank, I have those criticisms in the back of my head,” said Flueger, who plays Officer Adam Ruzek. “We’ve talked about running into old episodes on USA [channel], and we were [merely] telling stories — we were making a TV show. And now, in light of recent events, I really think people are waking up in a different way.”

Amid worldwide protests by citizens outraged by incidents of police brutality, those calls have grown louder.

In 2019, “Chicago P.D.” and other police shows were taken to task by nonprofit civil rights advocacy organization Color of Change and the University of Southern California’s Norman Lear Center, co-authors of “Normalizing Injustice,” a study detailing how television plays a major role in how police and systemic issues are viewed by consumers.

The study’s “Racial Integrity Index” ranked police series by its depictions of people of color relative to the percentage of people of color in the writers’ room. “Chicago P.D.” was ranked the third-worst in the index.

Has “Chicago P.D.” made any changes amid the “copaganda” criticisms? Flueger believes the proof is in the storylines of the current season.

“I think as a society we’re starting to turn some sort of page,” said Flueger. “I’m proud of being on a show that seems to be trying to turn a page — constantly turn the page appropriately.”

Read Evan F. Moore’s full interview with Flueger.

More news you need

  1. The federal appellate court in Chicago today overturned a significant $44.7 million judgment over an officer-involved shooting that was handed to the city more than three years ago by jurors looking to send a message about police misconduct. The jury in 2017 found that Patrick Kelly, while off-duty, shot his friend and left him permanently disabled.
  2. Mayor Lori Lightfoot this afternoon signed the revised “Welcoming City” ordinance that fully bars Chicago police officers from working with ICE under any circumstances. Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa called it a “beautiful day” because people will no longer need to fear being turned over to ICE when calling 911 for help.
  3. Public health officials in Chicago have loosened guidelines for travel to and from 18 states as the city’s COVID-19 testing positivity rate sits at its lowest point since the onset of the pandemic. Those states include Wisconsin and Indiana, which have also seen declines in coronavirus infections.
  4. The owner of the historic Phyllis Wheatley Home in Bronzeville is fighting to save the deteriorating building from potential demolition. The gray limestone is among a group of rare settlement houses established by Black suffragettes to aid women and girls arriving here in the Great Migration.
  5. U.S. Attorney John Lausch has done a “tremendous job” and it makes “zero sense” for the Biden White House to replace him, Lightfoot said today. The mayor cited the traditional summer spike in violent crime as part of why Lausch should not be removed.
  6. Insatiable fans of “Windy City Rehab” are going to get more: HGTV has ordered nine additional one-hour episodes of the show. The new episodes are slated to air in late 2021.
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A bright one

Chicago Park District to reopen the lakefront, play areas, swimming pools

The Chicago Park District announced plans today to gradually reopen the city’s lakefront, playgrounds and indoor swimming pools.

The Park District will begin opening public access points to parkland east of Lake Shore Drive as snow removal and cleanup from recent storms allow.

The Park District said it is preparing more than 500 outdoor playgrounds and nature play spaces to reopen during the upcoming weeks. Indoor swimming pools will offer limited aquatics programming during its spring season.


The Chicago Park District announced plans Tuesday to reopen the city’s lakefront as well as parks, playgrounds and indoor swimming pools.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

“We are thrilled that lakefront, playgrounds and indoor aquatics programs can safely reopen,” Park District Supt. Michael Kelly said. “The district is busy preparing these facilities to open as soon as possible. Although these restrictions are being lifted, we must continue to be diligent with the safety protocols that have been instrumental in our progress.”

Read Stefano Esposito’s full story here.

From the press box

White Sox infielder Tim Anderson got spring training underway with some good old fashion trash talking of the rival Twins. “We are way more athletic than them, and that’s just true facts,” he said yesterday.

And both North Side and South Side fans have comeback stories of sorts to root for this spring: the aging Jake Arrieta returns to the Cubs to try to reignite his career, while young Michael Kopech returns from Tommy John surgery to try to reach his potential.

Your daily question ☕

Do you plan to travel this spring now that the city’s travel guidelines have been loosened?

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

Yesterday, we asked you: What do you think of the criminal justice reform bill Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed today? Here’s what some of you said...

“The bill includes some long-overdue reforms, including the end of cash bail. Holding someone in jail while awaiting trial because that person is deemed a flight risk or a danger to the community is all well and good. But holding them simply because they cannot afford bail is unconscionable.” — Dennis Fritz

“It’s a start.” — Ozvaldo Pablo

“Horrible day for the people of Illinois. The police won’t be able to protect us against criminals. Sad that these politicians don’t care because they are always protected.” — Kim Catherine

“This is garbage. You’re cutting law enforcement off at the knees and allowing even more criminals back on the street. Add this to the laundry list of reasons why law-abiding citizens need to get the hell out of Illinois.” — Ken Komperda

“It’s about time. We need real police accountability as well as ending the unfair cash bond system.” — Sergio Rivera

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