Afternoon Edition: July 19, 2021

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

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A customer checks out a gun at a suburban gun store in Illinois.

Scott Olson/Getty Images (file photo)

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 with a high near 84 degrees. Tonight will be clear with a low around 68. Tomorrow will be sunny again with a high near 88.

Top story

Chicago police create new gun team to target illegal weapons ahead of Biden strike force

Supt. David Brown is creating a new Chicago Police Department team of about 50 officers to target gun traffickers and people who shouldn’t have weapons because their state firearm permits have been revoked, police officials told our Frank Main.

The team, based in Homan Square on the West Side, will work under Jason Brown, commander of CPD’s gang investigations and narcotics division, and Elena Gottreich, a former assistant Cook County state’s attorney who, as a prosecutor, focused on gun crimes. Gottreich, a civilian, is the deputy director of prosecutorial strategies for the police department, a new position.

Three groups of 10 officers will investigate gun trafficking, a fourth group of 10 will go after people with revoked Firearm Owner’s Identification cards, and a fifth group will help process for testing guns that were recovered from crime scenes or used by officers in shootings.

The creation of the new Chicago police gun teams comes as President Joe Biden promises to create federal strike forces in Chicago and other major cities to combat gun crime — a reaction to the soaring numbers of murders over the past two years across the country.

Read Frank Main’s full story here.

More news you need

  1. In another development for local policing, Mayor Lightfoot and police reform advocates have finally reached agreement on terms that will pave the way for civilian oversight of CPD. Fran Spielman has more details on the deal.
  2. Bail was denied yesterday for an Army veteran who allegedly shot and killed a man after they took psychedelic drugs together Saturday and engaged in sex with a woman who witnessed the attack. The victim hasn’t been identified by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.
  3. Bernard J. Hansen, a former Chicago alderman from the 44th Ward, has died. Hansen’s successor, Ald. Tom Tunney, said on Facebook that he died yesterday.
  4. Chicago aldermen successfully blocked a measure meant to limit their authority over business permits, signs and awnings, but Mayor Lightfoot hasn’t given up yet. She’s pushing again to shave time off the 150 days businesses wait for those items.
  5. Is there any hope for those who want to preserve the James R. Thompson Center in the Loop? David Roeder previews what should be a crucial few weeks for the future of the building with key deadlines coming up.
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A bright one

Teatro ZinZanni revives Loop theater with laughs, thrills and a slo-mo pie

It didn’t take long at Teatro ZinZanni for The Caesar — a.k.a. the dinner theater production’s emcee/ringmaster/clown-in-chief — to get loud about the return of in-person, live theater to Chicago’s Loop.

Three times, the last with the audience roaring along, The Caesar (Frank Ferrante) roared toward the heavens: “We are here!” Part battle cry, part defiant declaration, all unbridled exuberance, it was a fittingly raucous and celebratory moment.

Well, as celebratory as one can get with COVID-19’s lethal variants lurking who-knows-where.


Frank Ferrante reprises his role as The Caesar in the revamped Teatro ZinZanni.


ZinZanni originally opened back in July 2019 only to fall victim, along with the rest of the theater world, to COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns the following year. Certain key elements — namely Ferrante and master clown/co-director Joe DePaul — remain intact. The rebooted and retooled acts are fantastically over-the-top and more than diverting enough to make you momentarily forget we’re emerging from a pandemic.

There are kinks, so to speak, during the nearly three-hour production directed by ZinZanni founder Norm Langill, with Ferrante joining DePaul as a co-director.

The biggest issue: Way. Too. Much. Audience interaction.

Still, a little too much audience interaction couldn’t take away from the wild and over-the-top live production one expects from ZinZanni. Read Catey Sullivan’s full review here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

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On Friday, we asked you: What’s the best song about Chicago? Tell us why. Here’s what some of you said...

“‘Saturday in the Park’ by Chicago. We no longer live in Chicago, but hearing this song just brings me back to the Lakeshore and Grant Park. It just always brings me ‘home.’” — Sandy Reilly

“‘Lake Shore Drive’ by Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah, we heard it play during breakfast at a diner in Vancouver when one of the locals walked in wearing a White Sox cap, and it felt like we could walked outside and be under the ‘L.’” — Jonathan Justus

“‘Lake Shore Drive,’ by Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah. There are many good Chicago songs, but this one has always grabbed me the most.” — Frank Collins

“‘Lake Shore Drive!’ It needs no reasoning. It’s just a great song!” — Elizabeth Creamer Leon

“‘Calling Me Home, Chicago’ by Lee Montgomery. For those of us who have moved away, it tears at our heartstrings. My runner-up would be ‘Lincoln Park Pirates’ by Steve Goodman because it’s so much fun.” — Amy Jackson

“‘Sweet Home Chicago.’ I moved from California back to Chicago so it fit perfectly. Actually the best song about Chicago is any song that reminds you of what an amazing city Chicago is.” — Jennifer Weed

“‘My Kind of Town’ by [Frank] Sinatra — describes the city well and Frank sings it!” — George Nakis

“‘Take Me Back To Chicago’ by Chicago, just lets me reminisce about warm summer breezes, street corners and Tastee Freeze like the lyrics say.” — Dan PawlowskiThanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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