Afternoon Edition: March 31, 2022

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

SHARE Afternoon Edition: March 31, 2022

Erica Collier holds a portrait of her son King Collier Jr., who was killed in a driveby shooting outside the Parkway Gardens low-income housing project in June 2021. After nearly a year with no updates from detectives, Collier worries her son’s killing will never be solved.

Anthony Vazquez/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 cloudy with a high near 38 degrees and scattered rain and snow showers. Similar conditions will continue into tonight with a low around 30. Tomorrow will be mostly sunny with a high near 47.

Top story

Half of murder cases considered ‘solved’ by CPD in 2021 did not lead to charges

Chicago’s murder total last year surged to levels higher not seen in a quarter-century, but embattled police Supt. David Brown has frequently noted a positive data point amid the spike in violence: His department “cleared” more murder cases in 2021 than in any other year in nearly two decades.

The statistic on cases cleared is usually among the list of figures Brown cites in public remarks, alongside record numbers of handguns seized by officers and rising arrest totals for carjackings.

CPD detectives “cleared over 400 homicides in 2021,” Brown said at a January press conference, one of several times he’s mentioned the figure in public remarks. “That’t the most cleared in 19 years.”

Indeed, Chicago police closed exactly 400 murder cases in 2021, well above the average solved during each of the last several years, according to statistics provided in response to a public records request. That’s nearly 50 more cases closed than in 2020 and well above the average of 250 in each of the five years prior to that.

Based on the department’s official total of 797 murders in 2021, that amounted to a “clearance rate” of better than 50% last year.

But an analysis by the Sun-Times found that higher rate doesn’t mean many more people are being brought to justice than in years past.

In fact, a closer look at CPD’s clearance rate reveals that half of those cases —199 —were closed “exceptionally,” meaning that no suspect was charged. Under CPD policy, detectives are allowed to clear a case when the suspect is dead, prosecutors refuse to make a charge or police believe they know who did it but nevertheless don’t make an arrest.

Andy Grimm has the full story behind the data here.

More news you need

  1. A vigil will be held tomorrow for Hector Manuel Franco Tello, a 54-year-old father of four from Albany Park who was found dead in the Chicago River last week, several days after he went missing. Friends and family have scheduled the vigil for 6 p.m. tomorrow at Ronan Park, near where he was found.
  2. Family members of Daniel Martinez, a Chicago native and ex-Marine who was fatally stabbed in Boston a few weeks ago, are preparing to say their goodbyes ahead of Martinez’s visitation tomorrow. Martinez’s family owns a funeral home and his visitation will be the family’s first in their new location in Clearing, near Midway Airport.
  3. Mayor Lori Lightfoot today threw a $7.5 million bone to motorists squeezed by soaring gas prices — and tossed in a $5 million sweetener to lure commuters back to mass transit. The $12.5 million plan she calls “Chicago Moves” will be primarily bankrolled by corporate fund revenues with help from the avalanche of federal coronavirus relief.
  4. Less than four months after Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a development team would take over the beleaguered James R. Thompson Center in the Loop, the governor’s office today announced a purchase and sale agreement has been finalized. The group plans to preserve the building as a mixed-use property with office, retail and hotel space — and with the state retaining about a 30% ownership.
  5. Chicago is taking initial steps to pull together a bid for the 2024 Democratic National Convention. Although the city hasn’t hosted a major party gathering in more than a quarter of a century, Chicago was historically the nation’s most popular site for national political conventions. Take a trip through Chicago’s political convention history here.
  6. The Windy City has a “compelling and convincing story to tell” about why it is the right choice to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention — in spite of its international reputation as a haven for violent crime, Mayor Lightfoot said today. One day after joining the team of Democratic heavyweights in Illinois that went public with their interest in hosting the convention, Lightfoot played the role of Chicago cheerleader.
  7. Life is Work, a resource center for trans-identifying people of color, is hosting a Trans Visibility Pageant tonight at the Kehrein Center for the Arts in South Austin — with the winner poised to bring home a $3,000 cash prize. The pageant is a chance to “uplift trans community leaders” across the Chicago area and honor lost advocates, said Zahara Bassett, CEO and founder of Life Is Work.
  8. After a two-week strike, teachers have voted to approve a contract with the Proviso Township High School District 209. The three-year agreement includes a 3% raise for teachers each year of the contract, as well as an annual $500 bonus.
  9. A new AMC series, titled “61st Street,” centers on a longtime public defender in Chicago on the verge of retirement when he is compelled to take on one more, urgent case. The show’s star Courtney B. Vance spoke with our Richard Roeper about filming in Chicago and how the city was essential in telling the stories depicted in “61st Street.” 

A bright one

Frida Kahlo photo collection reveals new facets of the iconic Mexican artist’s life

Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is best known for her vivid self-portraits that mix realism with fantasy, nature and Mexican culture.

She also had a love of photography and was an avid collector — having amassed nearly 6,000 photographs, some purchased, some gifts, some inherited.

Some of those images belonged to her family, others to her husband, painter Diego Riviera, but it was Kahlo who treasured the photographs and curated the collection.

Frida Kahlo, by Lola Álvarez Bravo, ca. 1944. © Frida Kahlo Museum

Frida Kahlo — photographed by Lola Álvarez Bravo in 1944.

© Frida Kahlo Museum

Now, 240 of the photographs are featured in “Frida Kahlo, Her Photos,” a traveling exhibit on display in Pilsen at the National Museum of Mexican Art — opening tomorrow and running until Aug. 7.

When Kahlo died at 47 in 1954, Riviera locked away some of her art and objects in a closet at La Casa Azul, the Mexico City home — which is now the Frida Kahlo Museum — where they lived and where Kahlo grew up.

Fifty years later. the room was unlocked, and the long-unseen photographs were discovered.

Mary Houlihan has more on the collection here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

What do you think of Mayor Lightfoot’s plan to offer pre-paid gas and CTA cards for Chicagoans?

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: What’s something in Chicago that you won’t find anywhere else?

Here’s what some of you said…

“Delish diverse food, Navy Pier, Magnificent Mile and Lake Michigan — just to name a few.” — Vanessa Amos

“Italian beef. Until I moved away, I didn’t realize that it was a Chicago thing. I thought they were everywhere.” — Nikki Dee

“You won’t find an 18-mile, uninterrupted lakefront trail anywhere else. And it’s much longer when you consider all the side trails.” — Gener Tenner

“The museums. I worked in one and met a lot of people who thought things in other museums were in the same place, because surely a city couldn’t have more than one excellent, huge museum!” — Margaret Laing

“Glass block windows in the shower.” — Natalie Peak

“Italian beef, the bean and a team that will probably take another 106 years to win again.” — Eric Levy

“Excellent public transportation.” — Terry Sanders

“The people! There’s nothing like a native Chicagoan! Throw in the food, museums, lakefront, sports teams, architecture, history, neighborhoods, festivals. You can leave Chicago, but Chicago never leaves you! And the best thing is whenever you meet another person from Chicago it’s like you are old friends!” — Joanne Budka-Clines

“As someone who is forced to spend a lot of time away from Chicago, I can vouch for a few things: the people, food and neighborhoods from every ethnicity and every background. More greenery in the summertime than even cities with a tropical climate. Most beautiful spring flowers and fall foliage. Great holiday spirit, no matter which holiday and what the weather. And friendly people who make eye contact and say hi as you walk past.” — Manisha Makwana

“The CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, also Shedd Aquarium, Wrigley Field, O’Hare, etc.” — Mark Worcester

Editor’s note: Our Wednesday afternoon newsletter mistakenly referred to two stories under incorrect bylines. The review of “Everything Everywhere All at Once” was written by AP’s Jake Coyle. The sports column about the Ricketts family and Chelsea FC was written by Steve Greenberg. We apologize for the errors. 

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

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