Walmart’s plan to close stores slammed, an El Chapo crime saga update and more in your Chicago news roundup

Today’s update is about an eight-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Frankie Griffith, 72, joined protesters at a South Side Walmart Supercenter yesterday. Walmart has decided to close that Chatham store, which includes a health clinic. Griffith said she has walked to the Chatham Supercenter to shop since it opened almost two decades ago. It is the biggest of the four Chicago stores the company plans to close by Sunday.

Michael Loria/Sun-Times

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

— Matt Moore (@MattKenMoore)

Weather 🌤️

This afternoon will be partly sunny with a high near 83 degrees. Tonight will be mostly cloudy with a low near 62. Tomorrow will be partly sunny with a high near 80 — followed by a chance of showers and a low near 61 at night. Sunday will bring showers and possibly a thunderstorm, along with a high near 63.


Top story

South Siders slam Walmart over plan to close stores, threaten protests at other Walmarts

Ever since the South Side Walmart Supercenter in Chatham opened, Frankie Griffith has been walking there to shop for whatever she needed — groceries, clothing, even dental appointments — and yesterday, she returned to fight for the chance to keep doing so.

The retail giant announced this week it would close that location, at 8431 S. Stewart Ave., along with smaller stores in Kenwood, Little Village and Lakeview. Sunday will be the last day for all four locations.

The announcement Tuesday sparked outcry around the city, particularly for the Chatham area, where Walmart has become a hub for everything from appliances and toys to prescriptions and health appointments.

“The issue is having a nice, decent place we can walk to,” said Griffith, 72, wearing a pair of prescription sunglasses she bought at the store. “It should stay.”

The Chatham resident was among dozens of South Side residents, community leaders and elected officials protesting the planned closure outside the store yesterday.

Many on hand questioned the move given recent investments in the supercenter. The location was hit hard by rioting in the days after the killing of George Floyd, when protests erupted around the country. But rather than closing, as many feared, Walmart refurbished the store, added a primary care clinic and commissioned a mural for the building that celebrated the history of the neighborhood.

Walmart said in its announcement that it was shutting four sites in the city because the company’s stores in Chicago overall have been “unprofitable,” losing “tens of millions each year,” and yearly losses have almost doubled since 2018. Walmart has said it would connect employees at the stores it’s closing with jobs at other Walmarts, but incoming 4th Ward Ald. Lamont Robinson lamented the jobs within the community that would be lost.

Barring an about-face from the company, the group declared it was ready to protest at other Walmarts around Chicago and beyond.

“The same Black and Brown people who made this store will be the same ones who walk away,” said incoming 6th Ward Ald. William Hall, pastor of St. James Community Church in Chatham. “If Walmart does not invest on this land, we will go from Chicago to Indiana to Michigan” to protest at other Walmart stores.

Our Michael Loria has more with the Chicagoans impacted by Walmart’s plan.


More news you need


ComEd bribery trial

Former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore walks into the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.

Former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore walks into the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Despite cache of secret FBI recordings, ex-ComEd CEO tells jurors in bribery trial she didn’t view Madigan as an ally of utility

Federal jurors have spent five weeks listening to the voice of former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, caught in a cache of secret FBI recordings in which prosecutors say she conspired with her colleagues to bribe then-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

But yesterday, the polished former energy executive and theater major finally got the chance to speak directly to the people who will help decide her fate.

Pramaggiore took the witness stand in the ComEd bribery trial and told the jury she never viewed Madigan as an ally of the utility she led. She also denied that a longtime Madigan friend on trial beside her, Michael McClain, ever claimed that Madigan owed ComEd a favor.

Pramaggiore’s testimony began only 50 minutes before the scheduled end of court yesterday. That meant it barely had time to scratch the surface of the case before the trial wrapped up its fifth week. Pramaggiore’s defense attorney, Scott Lassar, will likely have far more questions to ask when the trial resumes Monday.

But that’ll be the easy part. When Lassar is finished, Pramaggiore will surely face a vigorous cross-examination by federal prosecutors in the high-stakes case. They gave her a hint yesterday of what might be to come with their questioning of another witness called by Pramaggiore’s legal team — Joseph Dominguez, another former ComEd CEO.

Pramaggiore, McClain, ex-ComEd lobbyist John Hooker and onetime City Club President Jay Doherty are accused of arranging for jobs, contracts and money for various Madigan allies in an illegal bid to sway Madigan as legislation crucial to ComEd moved through Springfield.

Our Jon Seidel recaps yesterday’s iteration of the trial.


A bright one ☀️

3 lion cubs greet visitors at Lincoln Park Zoo

The Lincoln Park Zoo showed its pride today — lion pride, that is.

The zoo welcomed three African lion cubs to public view today as part of their integration into the zoo after being born Jan. 9. Sidai, Pesho and Lomelok were born to mother lion Zari, who gave birth to cub Pilipili just last year.

The cubs have been progressing behind the scenes and vets have closely monitored them before bringing them into the public, according to Maureen Leahy, the zoo’s vice president of animal care and horticulture.

Three African lion cubs born in January were welcomed to the Lincoln Park Zoo exhibit Friday.

Three African lion cubs born in January were welcomed to the Lincoln Park Zoo exhibit Friday.

Provided

“Pesho, Sidai, and Lomelok have surpassed many critical milestones including nursing, opening their eyes, their first vet exam and meeting the rest of the lion pride, to name a few,” Leahy said in a news release.

“We are so excited to watch them continue to grow, discover the habitat, and see their individual personalities shine through.”

The cubs will have regular access to the zoo’s exhibit starting tomorrow, weather permitting, but zoo visitors should keep in mind that the cubs can choose to be out of public view.

Our Mary Norkol has more on the lion cubs.


From the press box

  • The Bulls take on the Heat tonight in Miami with a playoff spot the line. The play-in game starts at 6 p.m. on TNT.
  • A day after playing what’s likely his final game with the Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews discussed finding out the team did not plan to re-sign him and said he’s looking forward to the future: “It’d be nice to just let your guard down and just see where life takes you.”
  • Toews’ departure was the final domino to drop in the slow disintegration of the Hawks’ Stanley Cup core, Ben Pope writes.

Your daily question☕

What’s a business that you would say best represents the vibe of your neighborhood? Tell us why.

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

Yesterday, we asked you: What advice do you have for new cyclists hitting the streets and taking advantage of the good weather?

Here’s some of what you said…

“NEVER assume a car can see you! Especially post-COVID, people become absolute monsters once they are driving a car.” — Erin P.

“For any new riders going out, brake first before swerving to avoid a car, then look behind you before going around.” — Clayton Vesser

“I’ve been biking across the city since I was a teenager. My advice for new cyclists would be to use bike lanes where you can, take a bike maintenance workshop so you know what to do if you get a flat, and to have fun!” — Nia E.

“Be a defensive rider, obey stop signs. Do NOT assume cars will see you!” — Dave Coulter

“Get a flashing red taillight and keep your head on a swivel!” — Dave E.

“To remember that in Illinois, a bicycle is considered a vehicle, and therefore all traffic rules apply. So stop at stop signs and red lights, watch for turning vehicles, and for heaven’s sake, wherever there are signs of ‘no bicycles on sidewalks,’ please understand that there are many seniors in the neighborhood, and therefore don’t ride your bike on the sidewalks in those blocks.” — Manisha Makwana

“Bike as often as you can! So many trips can be done by bike! And get a Divvy membership so you can make a snap decision to bike when your otherwise out on the CTA.” — Carl Beien

“Plan out routes in advance. Stick to side streets if possible. Wear a helmet and follow traffic laws.” — Danielle Rue

“Starting with group rides definitely helps. In any case, just get out there as much as you can. You might find it’s a lot nicer to visit multiple places by bike in one trip, without the stress of looking for parking.” — Zak Patterson

“Your momma said wear a helmet.” — Sheryl Blackwell


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

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