The toll of pharmacy deserts, FOP leader endorses Bailey 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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When a CVS location in Little Village closed, customers found this sign, directing them to the closest CVS that was still open — about two and a half miles away.

When a CVS location in Little Village closed, customers found this sign, directing them to the closest CVS that was still open — about two and a half miles away.

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.

This afternoon will be cloudy with a chance of scattered showers and a high near 79 degrees. Tonight will be cloudy with a low around 63. Tomorrow will be mostly sunny with a high near 75.

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Afternoon Edition
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Top story

You’ve heard of food deserts. Pharmacy deserts are just as bad.

Monica Mitchell has lived in South Shore for two decades, and in that time, she’s had to change pharmacies three times.

The 48-year-old registered nurse said when a Walgreens five minutes from her house was closed, she switched to one a few blocks over, but it didn’t carry all the items she needed. So she started going to one in Hyde Park.

Then came the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in the summer of 2020, which sparked days of protests, civil unrest and looting across the city and the nation.

In the aftermath, hundreds of businesses in Chicago shut their doors either temporarily or permanently, including many pharmacies, and Mitchell was forced to change drugstores once again. By then, the closest Walgreens was in southwest suburban Evergreen Park, 30 minutes away.

While Mitchell now gets most of what she needs via mail order, that convenience is not widely used by those who are more comfortable with brick-and-mortar stores or lack internet access, she said.

A few miles southwest of Mitchell, 68-year-old Renita Johnson said over the decades she has lived in Roseland, she has seen a number of nearby pharmacies close.

She can’t imagine how her older neighbors without cars and limited mobility even get to a drugstore these days.

“I would see it as a total nightmare,” she said.

The experiences of the two women are not unusual in many parts of Chicago.

Read the full story by WBEZ’s Esther Yoon-Ji Kang and our Cheyanne M. Daniels.

More news you need

  1. A man has been charged with attempted murder after allegedly exchanging gunfire with an off-duty Chicago police officer on the Stevenson Expressway last week. David Struett and Tom Schuba have more on the case here.
  2. The Chicago Housing Authority says it’s looking into how one of its private property management firms treated protesters who are occupying a vacant CHA-owned house in Humboldt Park. The protestors say they want to call attention to the issue of CHA properties, like the one they’re in, that could be used for housing but instead sit empty.
  3. John Catanzara, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, today stood alongside Darren Bailey to announce his endorsement of the downstate Republican state senator for governor. After the endorsement, Catanzara told reporters Bailey’s social stances, including a staunchly anti-abortion agenda, played no role in his decision.
  4. Due to supply chain uncertainties, manufacturers are planning to get seasonal items out more quickly, a marketing professor at Northwestern told our Stefano Esposito. That means you’ll be seeing pumpkin spice items earlier than ever, if that’s your sort of thing.
  5. “The Devil Wears Prada, the Musical,” now in its world premiere at the Nederlander Theatre before a planned 2023 Broadway opening, “runs the gamut from mildly diverting to mostly egregiously disappointing,” Catey Sullivan writes. Read her full review here.
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A bright one

Little Village mural mystery solved; now Aurelio Diaz work is in line for a restoration

Painted in English and Spanish as part of an aging mural near Cermak Road and California Avenue are the words: “Where do correct ideas come from? Do they drop from the skies? No. Are they innate in the mind? No. They come from social practice and from it alone.”

The quote, easy enough to find, is from the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong.

But there’s no name or other marking to identify who painted the mural, titled “Education for the People,” dating to the late 1970s and filled with images including a man with one wrist in a shackle on which “Chicano” is written and the other arm bound by a rope.

The “Education for the People” mural was painted on a wall near Cermak Road and California Avenue in the 1970s by artist Aurelio Diaz.

The “Education for the People” mural was painted on a wall near Cermak Road and California Avenue in the 1970s by artist Aurelio Diaz.

Robert Herguth/Sun-Times

Who painted it is something that artists have wanted to know because they’re hoping to restore the mural, which is faded and chipping.

“I’d often wondered about the author,” Chicago mural historian and writer Jeff Huebner says. “We’ve long thought it was Aurelio” Diaz but weren’t “entirely sure.”

Now living in Mexico, Diaz, who also goes by Aurelio Diaz Tekpankalli, confirms that he painted “Education for the People” with the help of other artists.

Told there’s an effort underway to touch up the old painting, he says he’s all for it “if they’re going to do something of that quality” of the original.

Here’s more on Diaz’s work and the effort to restore it.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

What’s a smell that makes you think of Chicago?

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

On Friday, we asked you: In honor of International Beer Day, which Chicago craft brewery is your favorite? Tell us why. Here's what some of you said...

“Begyle Brewery for sure. The Blonde is my favorite. The staff is great.” — Analia Beltran-Lang

“Metropolitan, great beer and they have the best taproom space right on the river.” — Clint Walt

“Metropolitan Brewing is my favorite Chicago brewery. Between the picturesque river setting, beautiful terrace, and refreshingly crisp German-style brews, it has quickly become my go-to on the North Side.” — Andrew Dodd

“Daisy Cutter by Half Acre. I’ve been searching for my personal perfect beer for 50 years, tasting golden nectar all over the USA, as well as several European countries and Japan. To finally find the holy grail of ales right here in Chicago made me a very happy, satisfied senior citizen. A lifetime goal achieved!” — Floyd Sullivan

“In the city of Chicago, Metropolitan! Excellent venue with the taproom right on the river! Their beers are excellent, not your typical IPA faire but focusing on lagers; which are more difficult to brew correctly! In Dupage county it’s Goldfinger, which also focuses on lagers and is also outstanding!” — John S. Demczuk

“I’m sorry it’s international beer day not craft beer day … Choose a great German beer like Hacker-Pschorr and or Paulaner. If you’re gonna go for an ale reach for a Fuller’s London Pride. If you’re enjoying some Asian food, pair it with Tsingtao. Carry on Chicago!” — Mike Gin

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

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