Days off curtailed for Chicago police ahead of potential vaccination mandate showdown

CHICAGO — Chicago police officials sent officers an announcement Saturday that their days off will be limited, sources said, ahead of a potential showdown between the union and city leaders over Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s vaccination reporting mandate. The notice issued Saturday morning on behalf of First Deputy Superintendent Eric Carter says that during the next five roll calls, which are supervisor briefings before each shift, the following message will be read: “Until further notice, the use of elective time by sworn CPD members is restricted.” The announcement goes on to say elective time, al...

46 people shot, 3 fatally, in Chicago gun violence over weekend, including 6 children

CHICAGO — Six children, including a 2-year-old girl, were among 46 people shot in Chicago during the weekend. Most recently, between Sunday evening and Monday morning, four people were shot, one of them fatally. A total of three people died after being shot during the weekend. The weekend also saw a few shootings with multiple victims, including an attack that left dead one of the five people who were shot in a Wicker Park drive-by early Sunday and another that left wounded three people who were shot in Lawndale Saturday night, including two teenagers. In the Wicker Park shooting, officers wer...

Jury gets case of former Northwestern professor charged with murdering boyfriend

CHICAGO — After a week and a half of testimony, Cook County jurors have begun deliberations to answer the question: Who is ex-Northwestern professor Wyndham Lathem? Is he, as prosecutors described him, a coldblooded murderer animated by despair who stabbed his young boyfriend to death? Or is he, as his defense argued, a traumatized bystander who was framed by the actual killer, a catfishing gold-digger who committed the stabbing in a “jealous meth-fueled rage”? Jurors were sent back to deliberate about 3:30 p.m. Thursday after a few hours of closing arguments. Those arguments summarized wildly...

Kyle Rittenhouse attorneys claim Wisconsin hunting laws allow him to carry the gun he used to kill protesters

CHICAGO — With less than a month before Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial, his attorneys attempted to dismiss the gun charge against him Tuesday by arguing Wisconsin’s hunting laws allowed the teen to carry an assault rifle on the night he fatally shot two people and injured a third in downtown Kenosha. Under state statute, there are specific training and supervision requirements for anyone 16 years or younger to possess a gun while hunting. It does not detail restrictions for anyone older than that. Rittenhouse, who lived in far north suburban Chicago, was 17 when he took it upon himself to pat...

Kyle Rittenhouse petitions judge for a self-defense expert to testify on his behalf

CHICAGO — Kyle Rittenhouse will be back in a Kenosha County, Wisconsin, courtroom Tuesday seeking permission to call an expert witness on self-defense when his murder trial begins next month. Such testimony is critical to Rittenhouse’s defense, as his lawyers will attempt to convince a jury that the teenager believed he had to shoot three people that night in order to prevent his own death or serious injury. Similar to other states, Wisconsin law allows people to use guns to defend themselves against serious threats, but there are exceptions to that right. In order for Rittenhouse to legally j...

A long-lost silent movie turned up in a storage closet and got its first screening in almost a century

CHICAGO — Last week at the Gene Siskel Film Center, before a near-capacity crowd, director Edward Sedgwick's five-reel silent film “The First Degree" said hello again in its first public appearance in 97 years. For cinephiles, it was a great night. After so much lockdown/laptop/living room viewing these past 19 months — and I've been getting out to see movies in theaters and at drive-ins, in varying degrees of confidence, more than most — this event delivered, and everybody was vaccinated and/or recently COVID-19-tested, and the pleasure belonged to everybody. As Film Center programming director Rebec...

Thousands march in Chicago against Texas abortion ban, joining rallies across the nation

CHICAGO — About 2,000 protesters who crowded into Daley Plaza began marching Saturday afternoon during an abortion rights rally as American cities across the country planned a day of rallies against a recent abortion ban in Texas. Chicago’s “Defend Abortion Access” event kicked off at noon and was expected to be one of Saturday’s largest reproductive rights events in Illinois, along with one in Springfield and followed by about two dozen others in the suburbs and elsewhere. At least one of those in the Loop plaza by 11:30 a.m. was a man preaching anti-abortion messages and “what the Bible says...

Facing decades behind bars after New York conviction, will R. Kelly ever stand trial in Chicago?

CHICAGO — A jury in New York has found R. Kelly guilty of racketeering and other federal charges, but the 20-year legal saga surrounding the disgraced R&B star is far from over. With Kelly’s sentencing hearing more than seven months away, attention now swings back to his hometown of Chicago, where he faces five more indictments in both federal court and Cook County stemming from alleged sexual abuse. But with Kelly already facing decades in prison, is it possible he may never go to trial in a Chicago courtroom at all? What comes next depends on a lot of moving parts and behind-the-scenes maneu...

Toxic foam dumped into southern Illinois coal mine in unsuccessful attempt to extinguish underground fire

Operators of a southern Illinois coal mine dumped toxic foam deep underground in an unsuccessful attempt to extinguish a fire that idled production last month, according to documents obtained by the Chicago Tribune. The type of foam used by St. Louis-based Foresight Energy is being phased out in Illinois and 11 other states under laws that for the first time restrict unregulated chemicals known as PFAS — shorthand for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS are a growing concern worldwide because they remain in the environment forever, linger in the blood of exposed people for year...

Authors of ‘Black Nerd Problems’ just want to expand the church of nerddom and make sure there are seats for all

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” was still on my to-watch list. The pandemic didn’t put it on the front burner. Then I read William Evans’ essay, “Into the Spider-Verse Got Three Moments Better Than the Best Moment of Your Favorite Comic Book Movie Not Named Into the Spider-Verse” and I stopped everything to watch that 2018 film. (Don’t judge me, reporting on the pandemic had me occupied.) The way Evans spoke of Miles Morales and the work’s “perfectness” I couldn’t resist. In seven pages, and with the words: “My god, Peter Parker is the (expletive) GOAT. I don’t even think it’s up for debat...

A gun was stolen from a small shop in Wisconsin — it has now been linked to 27 shootings in Chicago.

CHICAGO — With the solid crack of a crowbar, the hooded burglar sent the showcase glass showering onto the gun shop’s floor and quickly swept several pistols into his shoulder bag. Among the cache that New Year’s morning at a northern Wisconsin gun shop was a lightweight 9 mm handgun with a black polymer grip, a black steel slide and a 4 1/2-inch barrel. On one side was the stamp of the handgun’s unique serial number: YZC020. On the other, the logo of one of the most profitable and ubiquitous firearms companies in the world: Glock. The Austrian handgun, a model 17, had been imported to the com...

Northwestern issues alert about alleged drugging cases, aggravated assaults at fraternity houses

EVANSTON, Ill. — Northwestern University issued an alert about multiple aggravated assault cases involving students “alleging they were drugged without consent” at fraternity houses, and students organized a protest Sunday night calling on the school to “abolish Greek life.” One person said they had been drugged Friday at a gathering at 2325 Sheridan Road in Evanston, the site of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, currently in its first year back after a yearslong suspension stemming from conduct the student-run Interfraternity Council in 2017 said made ”the Northwestern community less and le...

4 guns stolen in Wisconsin have been linked to dozens of shootings in Chicago

SUPERIOR, Wis. — The burglar had the perfect diversion. It was a few hours past midnight on New Year’s Day 2016, a time when the working-class northern Wisconsin town of Superior keeps the bars open especially late. Police were tied up with two bar fights, one of them a 30-person brawl at a local saloon called the Ugly Stick. With no cops in sight, the burglar was ready to make his move on Superior Shooters Supply, a gun shop frequented by hunters and hobbyists. Sporting a blue hooded winter coat, orange ski mask and shoe covers, he tried to break in through a set of doors on the north side of...

R. Kelly convicted of racketeering conspiracy, all other counts at his federal trial in NY

CHICAGO — R&B singer R. Kelly was convicted by a federal jury in New York on Monday of racketeering conspiracy and eight other counts alleging he headed a criminal enterprise that employed agents, runners, bodyguards and others to lure and trap girls and young women to satisfy his sexually predatory desires. The guilty verdict on the main racketeering count in the indictment was announced in U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly’s courtroom in Brooklyn. The jury, which heard from 50 witnesses over the six-week trial, reached its verdict after deliberating for about nine hours over two days. In addi...

Jury to hear bizarre case of former Northwestern professor accused of sexual thrill-killing

CHICAGO — The accusations tell a sordid tale that seems straight from a supermarket tabloid: The story of the genius scientist who stabbed his boyfriend to death as part of a violent sex fetish, then led police on a nationwide manhunt, sending his family a chilling video confession along the way. But, prosecutors allege, it was all too real. And over the course of the next two weeks, Cook County jurors will meet the man at the center of it. Five years after the killing, former Northwestern professor Wyndham Lathem is slated to stand trial beginning Monday for first-degree murder. And, his atto...

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