CPD’s failures in response to downtown unrest in 2020, Lightfoot’s controversial NASCAR deal and more in your Chicago news roundup

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

SHARE CPD’s failures in response to downtown unrest in 2020, Lightfoot’s controversial NASCAR deal and more in your Chicago news roundup
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Chicago police officers stand in a line amid downtown protests, May 30, 2020

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a five-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be cloudy with a high near 28 degrees. Tonight will be cloudy with a chance of flurries and a low near 27. A winter storm warning will be in effect tomorrow afternoon through Saturday morning. Tomorrow will see snow and areas of blowing snow with a high near 31 and wind chill values as low as -9.

Top story

How an unjustified arrest exposed glaring failures in CPD’s response to unrest that followed George Floyd’s killing

An investigation into a brutal and unjustified arrest during George Floyd protests in Chicago two years ago has raised new questions about the Chicago Police Department’s response to the days of unrest and implicated a commander and two officers in the filing of a false report.

The officer who made the arrest, James Hunt, is accused of beating a woman who drove toward another officer on the night of May 30, 2020, in the first block of West Kinzie Street.

Hunt smashed out one of her windows, struck her in the legs with a baton and called her a “fat b——” while arresting her “without justification,” according to a letter from Chicago Police Supt. David Brown to the Chicago Police Board.

The letter, which seeks Hunt’s dismissal, was sent this month after the Civilian Office of Police Accountability finished its review of the arrest.

But the COPA report goes beyond that arrest and suggests officers may have included false or misleading information in hundreds of arrest reports during demonstrations at the end of May that year.

In the case of the woman who was beaten, then-Central District Cmdr. Joseph Alderden was listed as the arresting officer, not Hunt. COPA noted the arrest report included the wrong time, location, charge and narrative. It also misspelled Alderden’s name.

COPA said Alderden acknowledged he was not the arresting officer and believed someone higher up in the department told officers to falsely use his name on reports.

A detective, Krista Chasen, told COPA she would “copy and paste information her supervisors directed her to use for all the mass arrests,” whether or not they actually reflected what happened. She told investigators that she attested to roughly 100 arrest reports at the Central District, adding that she “would have no idea if the report was false or misleading because she was not given any details.”

In the case of the woman beaten, Lt. Robert Kane, the district’s watch commander at the time, signed off on the probable cause for the arrest even though it was “demonstrably false,” COPA found. The agency recommended that Chasen and Kane face anywhere from a 180-day suspension to dismissal.

COPA called for Alderden’s firing for failing to follow mass arrest procedures.

Tom Schuba has more on the investigation here.

More news you need

  1. Loved ones, former colleagues and all of us here at the Sun-Times are mourning the loss of Brian Rich, who passed away last week at age 40. Brian was an immensely talented visual journalist with a love for life, his wife and his newborn daughter. “I’m grateful for the time I had with him but we should have had several more decades together,” his wife Emily said. Our Mitch Dudek has more on Brian here.
  2. A body pulled from Diversey Harbor yesterday was identified as Peter Salvino, a Northwestern University student who had been reported missing, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. Salvino, 25, was reported missing Sunday after leaving a party in the 2400 block of North Geneva Terrace, police said.
  3. Hunker down if you can, bundle up if you can’t — and keep an eye on each other either way. That was the message from city leaders today in light of the first major winter storm of the season. Expect a frigid system that might not bring overwhelming amounts of snow but could generate dangerous white-out conditions throughout the weekend. Our Mitchell Armentrout has the latest on the forecast here.
  4. Chicago Public Schools has canceled all after-school programs tomorrow in light of the extreme weather expected to hit the area — but schools will remain open for classes. All district schools will begin winter break Friday with no classes on that day.
  5. This summer, cars will race through downtown thanks to a three-year deal Mayor Lori Lightfoot signed with NASCAR. Interviews with City Council members, experts and a WBEZ analysis of the contract show minimal financial benefit to the city and few specifics about who pays for related costs, such as security and clean up. Reporter Mark Guarino has more on the controversial deal here.
  6. Illinois has won $253.7 million in federal funding to boost internet access in underserved areas, federal and state officials announced yesterday. The new federal money will be used to connect 87,613 households and businesses in Illinois without high-speed internet access.

A bright one

Actor Larry Yando celebrates 15 years as Scrooge

In the 45 years since the Goodman Theatre premiered its annual staging of “A Christmas Carol,” one Ebenezer Scrooge has dominated the seasonal tradition. This year marks the 15th year actor Larry Yando brandishes the “bah humbugs” of Charles Dickens’ infamous miser. The Goodman’s annual staging of “A Christmas Carol” runs through Dec. 31 at the Loop theater.

Yando is one of 10 Ebenezer Scrooges to find redemption at the Goodman, but he’s been at it almost twice as long as anyone else in the production’s history.

After so many years, Yando says his muscle memory kicks in when he’s back in the rehearsal room. He knows the corkscrew staircase that twists through Scrooge’s counting house almost by heart and paces it off while reciting the lines.

“It wasn’t a show I knew. It wasn’t one I’d ever seen,” he said. “I always loved the story itself. Who doesn’t? And I thought it would be fun to play someone who hated everything and then turn it around 180 full degrees. I mean, as an actor, who wouldn’t want that role? It wasn’t until we got into rehearsal that I realized how mythic and deep this story runs.”

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Chicago’s most famous “Scrooge,” Larry Yando, is back with all his fabulous “ba! hambugs!” for this season’s production of “A Christmas Carol,” at the Goodman Theatre.

Goodman Theatre

The role’s demanding flight sequences never phased Yando, who spent three years in the early Aughts getting pushed off a cliff eight shows a week when he played Scar in the national tour of Disney’s “The Lion King.”

“I think the thing that keeps me coming back [to ‘A Christmas Carol’] is that show is like medicine sort of, a tonic,” Yando continued.

“Every year my favorite part is looking at people’s faces at the end of the night. When audiences first come in, they have all the weight of the world on them. But it’s lightened at the end. I don’t know how else to describe it but I am vividly aware of it. The energy is amazing.”

Catey Sullivan has more with Yando here.

From the press box

Your daily question☕

Have you ever been snowed in somewhere other than your home? Tell us about it.

Send us an email at newsletters@suntimes.com and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday we asked you: What’s one important lesson you learned this year?

Here’s what some of you said...

“Should have taken the vaccine! COVID almost killed me — five months in the hospital Now the consequences. But God is good. I’m here!” — Vilma Portalatin

“Boundaries. Every relationship from romantic to familial to professional needs them. Every person you meet does not get the same ‘access’ to you. Trust is earned” — Ashley Marie

“Life is precious and tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.” — Bob Vorbroker

“To be loved by someone you love is a blessing.” — Rita Yeast

“Be kind — check in on people and let them know how much they mean to you.” — Sandra Judith

“Knowing when it’s time to move on.” — Jonathan Justus

“Can’t fly like an eagle if you hang around turkeys.” — Adrian Landa

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

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