Van Dyke gets off easy

The ex-cop who shot teenager Laquan McDonald sixteen times, Jason Van Dyke, is expected to be released from prison on February 3 after fulfilling roughly half of his nearly seven-year prison sentence due to good behavior. His lawyer has said that he doesn’t want any more public attention. The Rev. Jesse Jackson and other Black activists like the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression are planning a protest at the Federal Plaza to condemn the slap on the wrist. Jackson and McDonald’s family are seeking to pressure the Department of Justice to press federal charges. During a press conference, he called on CTA employees to withhold their labor on the 3rd and “shut down the city.” Meanwhile, former mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is accused of covering up the video evidence of the murder, just arrived in Tokyo for his new job as ambassador to Japan. 

Libraries stocked with Narcan

As of this month, fourteen Chicago Public Libraries on the South and West sides will be provided with Narcan for public use. The nasal spray is a form of the medication naloxone and can rapidly reverse an opioid overdose. Through this program, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDHP) is hoping to prevent opioid-related overdose deaths in the most affected areas of the city. In 2020, the community areas with the most overdoses were in North Lawndale, Austin, and Humboldt Park. In the first half of 2021, the city saw 467 opioid-related deaths. According to the Healthy Chicago 2025 report, overdose deaths are one of the top drivers of the 8.8-year life expectancy gap between Black and white Chicagoans. Narcan will be available in wall-mounted boxes, and anyone can administer it–even without medical training. There are no harmful effects if it is given to someone who is not experiencing an overdose. By the end of 2022, CDPH is hoping to expand the program to twenty-seven library branches. 

Academics ask mayor to deny General Iron permit

The City is delaying its decision on a permit for Southside Recycling’s metal scrapper to open on the Southeast Side until at least February. The permitting process has been on hold since last May, after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wrote to Mayor Lightfoot suggesting that the City complete an environmental justice analysis before approving the permit. This letter followed continued protests from Southeast Side residents–including a month-long hunger strike last February–against the proposed move of the General Iron facility from Lincoln Park to their neighborhood. Since November 2021, two virtual meetings have been held to evaluate the health impacts of the facility and gather input from residents. The third and last meeting of this “health impact assessment” (HIA) was scheduled for January, but has been postponed due to COVID, officials said. Earlier this month, the Dean of the UIC School of Public Health, Wayne H. Giles, as well as UIC professors and other academics, wrote a letter to the mayor asking her to deny the permit. The letter was also signed by eight elected and City officials, sixty-nine organizations, and 754 individuals.

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