Yes, prisoners deserve a stimulus check
Despite misleading messaging from the IRS, the deadline for jail and prison inmates to file for a stimulus check via a paper application is now October 30 after advocates found that the fine print in the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act does not exclude incarcerated people. Stimulus funds can be a real relief for prisoners who have no money in their books to pay for hygiene supplies or phone calls—particularly during the pandemic—and will be a crucial resource for those soon to be released. An online form with a November 21 deadline has been shared widely by the Illinois Prison Project, though the Uptown People’s Law Center says the IRS may not accept third-party applications (from family members or loved ones) and is fundraising to mail paper applications to all 35,000 prisoners in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
City survey reveals widespread support to defund the police
In a public survey about the city budget that more than 37,000 Chicagoans filled out, the majority indicated the need to invest more money in community services. Of the ninety percent who believed funds should be reallocated from other budget items for those services, eighty-seven percent said the money should come out of CPD. Meanwhile, North Side aldermen have proposed creating a trauma response team that would be dispatched to non-violent emergencies instead of the police, to tend to social crises, but the mayor has announced her own safety plan that would include mental health professionals working with the police, and the Chicago Department of Public Health has yet to weigh in.
ICE arrests dozens in Chicago during pandemic
Between late August and mid-September, ICE reported that it detained eighty-eight immigrants in the Chicago metro area. The agency claims the immigrants were previously in the custody of CPD or the Illinois State Police and then released—but were not automatically turned over to ICE due to the restrictions of the sanctuary city policy limiting the cooperation between local police and immigration officials. Advocacy groups reported that ICE agents were seen wearing bulletproof vests that only identified them as “POLICE”, drove unmarked grey vans, and asked targets for proof of residency and in some cases ran their fingerprints on the spot. In late September, the Trump administration announced a nationwide operation in sanctuary cities; activists advise vulnerable communities to learn their rights and have an action plan.
Five hundred South Side apartments get auctioned off
Forty-five brick and stone buildings encompassing hundreds of apartments in Black neighborhoods, including Washington Park, Woodlawn, Englewood, and South Shore, were recently sold to for-profit investment firms. The units had been owned by an affordable housing non-profit, the Better Housing Foundation, that went bankrupt and allowed nearly half of the properties to remain vacant. Hilco Real Estate brokered the bidding process that by design excluded small landlords (the same Hilco that disastrously imploded the coal plant smokestack in Little Village), and more auctions are in the works.