End of gang database
This month, the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability voted to erase the Chicago gang database, which research has shown was outdated, inaccurate and racist. For years, community groups held protests, town halls, collected petitions and filed lawsuits to dispute its reliability and cease its use as a tool to arrest and criminalize Black, Latinx, and immigrant people. The database was heavily criticized by the Inspector General in a 2019 audit. The Erase the Database Campaign is calling this the “first major victory to reimagine public safety under the Johnson administration.”
Municipally owned grocery store
Mayor Brandon Johnson announced the city’s exploration of a municipally owned grocery store. In partnership with the Economic Security Project, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of an equitable economy, the city is conducting a feasibility study.
“We know access to grocery stores is already a challenge for many residents, especially on the South and West sides,” Mayor Johnson said in a press release referencing the disparity in food accessibility in marginalized communities.
This move comes after major chains like Walmart closed four locations in the spring, two of which were located in West Chatham and Kenwood. The list of shuttered grocery stores by companies like Aldi, Save A Lot, and Jewel-Osco impact neighborhoods like Washington Park and Auburn Gresham. “My administration is committed to advancing innovative, whole-of-government approaches to address these inequities,” continued the Mayor.
Depending on the study, Chicago could be the first major city in the country to establish a municipally owned grocery store. The city would make use of a twenty million dollars grant provided by the Illinois Grocery Initiative to fund the project.
Libraries respond to bomb threats
Last week, the Chicago Public Library searched or closed all its branches in response to bomb threats that were ultimately unfounded. Similar threats were made against libraries in neighboring areas like Aurora, Addison and Evanston. Weeks prior, Oak Park Public Library and Wilmette Public Library received threats.
Libraries across the country have been the subjects of controversy as some Americans call for certain books—especially ones discussing critical race theory or LGBTQ people—to be censored or banned. The bomb threats appear to be an escalating tactic to force libraries to ban these books.
In a statement, Edwin C. Yohnka, Director of Communications at the ACLU of Illinois, wrote, “We should all be clear. The recent threats result from ideologically driven attacks on libraries, attacks from a small handful of loud voices who seek to ban books and displays that reflect and elevate the experiences and views of LGBTQ+ people, people of color and other voices too often ignored in our society. The language and misinformation driving these book bans sadly lead some to believe that threats of violence are an appropriate response to children’s books they do not like. Threats of violence against libraries make clear that each of us must support the work of all librarians across Illinois. It is time that we unite as a state in opposing the voices of anger that want to ban books and not allow ourselves to be coerced by threats.”