Afternoon Edition: Feb. 11, 2022

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

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Secure Community Network Assistant Deputy Director for Operations Command and Coordination Matthew Siegel looks at a computer in Secure Community Network’s office in River North, Wednesday morning.

Pat Nabong/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 breezy and mostly cloudy with a high near 45 degrees and a 40% chance of showers. Tonight will be cloudy with rain and snow showers likely and a low around 12. Tomorrow will be mostly sunny with a high near 20. Sunday will be partly sunny with a high near 21 and a slight chance of snow.

Top story

Chicago center trained rabbi, other hostages at Texas synagogue who escaped safely

When a gunman from England took four people hostage last month in a synagogue near Fort Worth, Texas, a high-tech command center in a nondescript office building in River North sprang into action.

Secure Community Network monitors threats against Jewish communities across the United States. It was alerted after police arrived at the Colleyville, Texas, synagogue. The Chicago command center immediately notified the FBI and the federal Department of Homeland Security.

Inside Congregation Beth Israel synagogue, the rabbi and three congregants later said they relied on the training they got from Secure Community Network, which had conducted an in-person safety session there Aug. 22.

The hostages, who all ended up safe, said they used what they’d learned to identify the nearest exits, to quietly communicate by tapping each other softly on the shoulder and to position their chairs to try to keep any bullets their captor might fire from striking them.

The gunman, Malik Faisal Akram, agreed to let one hostage go as a sign of goodwill but was growing increasingly agitated.

That prompted another hostage, Jeffrey Cohen, to throw a chair at Akram as a diversion.

He and the remaining hostages escaped, and law enforcement officers entered the building, fatally shooting Akram.

Cohen said afterward that the Secure Community Network training “saved our lives.”

Frank Main has more on the Chicago company’s efforts to respond to threats here.

More news you need

  1. A SWAT team was called to East Garfield Park this morning after someone fired shots at Chicago police officers. Our reporters have more on this developing story here. 
  2. Murder charges have been filed in a shooting last year that killed Verndell Smith, a 32-year-old South Side dance coach whose studio served as a safe space for children. Police say the motive of the suspected shooter remains unclear.
  3. Testimony has ended in the federal tax trial of Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson, and closing arguments are set for Monday morning. Prosecutors rested early today, and Thompson’s defense team called a series of witnesses, mostly to testify to his good character. Thompson also confirmed that he would not testify in his own defense.
  4. Mayor Lori Lightfoot struck a more optimistic tone today as she hinted at “a couple of proposals that are very, very interesting” to improve Soldier Field that she said may make for a more enticing deal for the Bears. The future of Soldier Field has been up in the air since September when the Bears announced plans to move from the historic downtown stadium to the site of Arlington International Racecourse.

A bright one

Protect the planet, Dredske urges with his ‘Spaceship Earth’ mural in North Lawndale

For the Chicago artist known as Dredske, author R. Buckminster Fuller’s seminal 1969 book “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth” was inspirational.

Dredske — real name Terence Byas — pays homage to Fuller with the mural he titled “Spaceship Earth (Space Cadet)” at 2969 W. 19th St. in North Lawndale.

Picturing an astronaut surrounded by orbiting planets, he says he was making a statement about the need for environmental sustainability and an “appreciation for Earth.”


Artist Dredske’s mural in North Lawndale was inspired by architect and philosopher R. Buckminster Fuller’s book “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth.”


“Just like a spaceship,” he says, people have to protect the planet.

Dredske, who painted the mural in November 2021, says he also was aiming to honor Mae Jemison, the first Black woman in space.

The woman, there to “represent humanity,” has one green eye and one brown — a nod to a scene in “2001: A Space Odyssey” in which the characters’ eyes change colors with every blink.

Alec Karam has more on the story behind Dredske’s work here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

Where’s the best place to go on a date in Chicago?

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

Yesterday we asked you: Who had the best Super Bowl halftime show of all time?

Here’s what some of you said…

“Prince. I think there was a football game that day too!” — Tirso Olivares

“Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Tampa. The Boss and his band had to whittle down a normally three-hour show down to 12 minutes. And he succeeded!” — Matt Engel

“Prince- hands down! Pouring rain during Purple Rain, smoking guitars and just a spectacular performance. Best ever. Tom Petty was a close second.” — Karen Jackson-McGee

“Michael Jackson. The fan participation was epic.” — Joseph Peterson

“Aerosmith and NSYNC…cuz I was there and it was freaking amazing!” — Shawn Flaherty

“Paul McCartney, with fireworks during ‘Live and Let Die’ and a crowd singalong in ‘Hey Jude.’ It was awesome, as you would expect from a member of the Beatles.” — Travis Truitt

“Beyonce — she made the power go out!” — Katie Lynae Robinson

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

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