On Tuesday, April 11, a chemical spill was discovered at the U.S. Steel plant in Portage, Indiana, twenty miles down the coast of Lake Michigan from Chicago. A pipe failure caused the chemical to spill into the Burns Waterway, which feeds into Lake Michigan, at a distance of one hundred yards from the shore. Several beaches along the Indiana shore were closed, and officials warned South Side residents to avoid the lakeshore before tests could occur. While testing by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Chicago Department of Water Management later revealed that chemical levels in Lake Michigan’s waters were well below federal safety standards, the spill elicited a strong reaction from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who criticized U.S. Steel for its “careless conduct.”
In the summer and early fall of 2015, all eyes in Chicago’s education community were on the campaign and thirty-four-day hunger strike organized by community organizers, families, and educators, that successfully led to the reopening of Dyett High School in Washington Park as an arts school. Among the activists in the “Save Dyett” campaign were Dyett alumni and students, many of whom mobilized after feeling their communities and schools were being undervalued by city officials.
Donald Trump’s aggressive immigration policies have upended the lives of people around the world, and if his administration follows through on promises made on the campaign trail, the futures of both documented and undocumented immigrants in the U.S. may face additional threats in the years to come. As a result, American universities and their communities, which rely on student talent from all over the world, are among the institutions that stand to lose because of Trump’s policies. In Chicago, many universities and colleges are taking steps to respond to these policies.
Ruben L. Garza, Jr. is the vocalist for Through N Through, a four-person band of Little Village natives who write music about their experiences growing up young and Latinx on the South Side. They are not the first to do so: punk bands like Los Crudos have become synonymous with the local music scene in Little Village and Pilsen by wearing their heritage on their sleeves. But Through N Through is different. Although Garza says he prefers the label “hardcore” for Through N Through’s music, the thick guitar tones, crushing palm-muted riffs, and cutting kick drum all show the band’s heavy metal roots bursting through to the surface, with Garza’s hardcore punk vocals adding a defiant and satisfying finish.
As the year comes to an end, the Chicago Transit Authority is preparing for a changing of the guard at the federal level, and city officials are doing everything they can to secure funds for high-cost ventures before President Barack Obama leaves office. The Far South Side expansion of the Red Line, however, will have to wait another year, well into a Donald Trump presidency, to secure federal funding.
On November 1, the St. John Missionary Baptist Church on 115th Street in Roseland became the forum for discussions that could shape the future of the area for years to come—with changes potentially rippling across the entire South Side. Community members, CTA officials, and organizers came together for the only public hearing on the environmental impact statement for the Red Line extension project, the details of which were announced in late September. “The draft environmental impact statement looks closely at the potential benefits and impacts of both the east and west options,” says Jeffery Tolman, a spokesperson for the CTA, referring to two possible routes for the extended Red Line.“The public meeting was to seek out the community’s feedback.” The final route and impact statement will be unveiled in 2017, Tolman says.
“And in many cases, these restaurants are located in historically black communities and often we don’t get the level of positive recognition that [we] should.” –Bernard Loyd
“Spying on them is a perfect response to them spying on you. That’s how we win.” Jerry Boyle
Since its creation in 2007, the Independent Police Review Authority has investigated almost four hundred police
shootings. They found only one to be unjustified.
On December 30, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the Chicago Police Department will add an additional seven hundred Tasers to the force by June of this year, bringing the CPD’s number of stun guns to fourteen hundred. Officers will also be trained in de-escalation tactics that emphasize nonviolent confrontation methods. This announcement comes after weeks of intense criticism of the police department, the city government, and Emanuel himself after the video of Laquan McDonald being shot by Officer Jason Van Dyke was released to the public in November.