HUD accuses Chicago of environmental racism, Gov. Pritzker catches COVID 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.

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A protester attends a rally demanding Mayor Lori Lightfoot deny the final permit that will allow General Iron to move from Lincoln Park, a mostly white neighborhood, to the Southeast Side, which has a mostly Latino population.

A protester attends a rally demanding Mayor Lori Lightfoot deny the final permit allowing General Iron to move from Lincoln Park to the Southeast Side, near Lightfoot’s home in Logan Square, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020.

Pat Nabong / Sun-Times file

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.

This afternoon will be mostly sunny with a high near 90 degrees. Tonight will be partly cloudy with a low near 76. Tomorrow will be sunny with a high near 89.

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Afternoon Edition
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Top story

City violated residents’ civil rights by moving polluters to Black, Latino neighborhoods, HUD says

The city of Chicago is violating the civil rights of its residents by relocating polluting businesses from white communities into Black and Latino areas that already are overwhelmed with environmental and health issues, federal officials have found after a nearly two-year investigation.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is demanding that Chicago change its unlawful planning, zoning and land-use policies so they don’t discriminate against communities of color, according to a letter to the city.

If Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration doesn’t agree to work on a plan to overhaul its processes and policies, City Hall could lose hundreds of millions a year in federal housing money. City officials didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The investigation was sparked by a complaint from community organizers who challenged the city’s role in the planned relocation of the General Iron metal-shredding business from mostly white Lincoln Park to a majority-Latino Southeast Side community surrounded by Black neighborhoods.

“These actions continued a broader policy of shifting polluting activities from white neighborhoods to Black and Hispanic neighborhoods despite the latter already experiencing a disproportionate burden of environmental harms,” the HUD letter to the city said.

Brett Chase has more on HUD’s letter to the city here.

More news you need

  1. A man traveled from his home in Georgia to Chicago and fatally shot his estranged wife in her condominium in Streeterville yesterday before turning the gun on himself as officers tried to get inside, according to police reports. Police arrived at the building after authorities in Georgia requested a well-being check on the suspected gunman, whose family had reported him missing, reports state.
  2. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has tested positive for COVID-19. The diagnosis comes just days after Pritzker traveled to Florida to deliver an address that is once again stoking suspicions he’s considering a run for president.
  3. A large fire at a farm supply store in south suburban Shorewood released toxic smoke into the air this morning, prompting authorities to order residents to find shelter. Four of Tri-County Stockdale’s six buildings, which stored fertilizer, pesticides and other farming products, were destroyed by the fire, authorities said.
  4. A new report released this morning from Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas links racially discriminatory practices to today’s vacant and abandoned properties. To do so, her office examined the decades-old redlining maps then compared them to the locations of properties listed in the county’s scavenger sales.
  5. NASCAR will be coming back to the Chicago area in a big way next year with a downtown street race set for Fourth of July weekend. Fran Spielman has more after Mayor Lightfoot joined NASCAR to announce the plans this afternoon.
  6. You and yours can soon be a Toys R Us kid once again, thanks to a deal that will see the nostalgic toy store revived inside of Macy’s stores nationwide. Thanks to a surge in online Toys R Us sales last fall, the toy store will occupy as much as 10,000 square feet inside Macy’s flagship stores — like its Chicago store on State Street.
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A bright one

Taylor Bennett stays true to himself, ‘doing what I love’

After spending the first half of his summer performing on “Good Morning America” and “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” and appearing at NYC’s Youth Pride, Taylor Bennett is finally coming back home. The genre-bending music artist and outspoken social activist (like his brother Chance The Rapper) will host a free record release show for his wildly eclectic new album “Coming Of Age” at Lincoln Hall on Friday.

It’s the same spot in 2015 where he staged a now infamous concert for his debut “Broad Shoulders,” which introduced the world to his undeniable talent and positive lyrical messaging.

Even with his rising profile, Bennett still lives in and does most of his business in Chicago, where his earliest foundation was established while growing up in the West Chatham neighborhood.


Taylor Bennett is hosting a free record release show for his wildly eclectic new album at Lincoln Hall.

Courtesy of Taylor Bennett/Shore Fire Media

In addition to finding his partner and welcoming two young children in recent years, there was also a transformational moment in 2017 when Bennett used his Twitter platform to come out as bi, an experience that saw him promoting self-acceptance with his fans.

Shortly after, he released an album called “Be Yourself” in 2018 and, today, Bennett continues putting his voice behind that message on his latest tour, which stopped at a number of college campuses in May, including Northwestern University, where he talked to students about embracing their identities and making the world a more inclusive place.

“What we do makes such a big difference,” said Bennett. “This is going to be our country, our world, our children’s world after us, and it’s up to us to step up and figure out how to make it better.”

Read Selena Fragassi’s full profile of Bennett here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

How do you feel about the city hosting a NASCAR race downtown?

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

Yesterday, we asked you: Should Chicago give cops more power to go after drag racing in the streets?

Here’s what some of you said…

“Absolutely. It’s just a matter of time before someone loses control of their car and injures the bystanders.” — Barbara Lindberg

“What exactly does ‘more power’ mean? Don’t the traffic laws give the police the authority they need to safeguard the public from things like reckless driving on the public way?” — Chris Vaughn

“The police should have the power to go after all criminals, including those suspected of crimes that run away. Knowing police can no longer exercise policing has led to a free for all.” — Melissa Hake-Schofield

“The Chicago police have enough power. They need policies that allow them to exercise their authority to enforce laws effectively.” — London Thomas

“If they can do it in a safe manner — absolutely.” — Michael Rodgers

“Well, maybe the city could monetize it. Have it organized and paid for, and cops could help keep it safe. There’s a business there if the right politicians get behind it.” — Christine Bock

“Absolutely. The drag racing is totally out of hand and goes on 24/7 at all hours.” — Kathy Gold

“Most certainly not! Right now the city is actively looking to give NASCAR a contract to race around the city. How about bringing our existing racing culture out of hiding? The only difference is which subculture has permission to thrive. The nimby neighbors in the West Loop should just bring out a cooler and chairs instead of calling the cops on our neighbors. Ngl, you know they are watching the Fast and the Furious inside their lux apartments.” — Luke Kitchen Grace

“Probably only if the owner/driver of the car has known outstanding charges, felonies, etc. I wouldn’t want an unnecessary police chase through the neighborhood.” — Brian CeeDrive

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

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