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Your Thursday afternoon briefing

Chicago Sun-Times Afternoon Edition
Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.
— Matt Moore (@MattKenMoore)

This afternoon will be cloudy with scattered thunderstorms and a high near 77 degrees. Tonight will be cloudy with a chance for more storms and a low around 66. Tomorrow will be cloudy again with a chance of showers and a high near 74.
Top story
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs a package of criminal justice reform legislation today. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs a package of criminal justice reform legislation today. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Deceptive practices during the interrogation of minors would be barred under a bill Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law today, one piece of legislation aimed at advancing “the rights of some of our most vulnerable” in the state’s criminal justice system.
“Together, this package of initiatives moves us closer to a holistic criminal justice system, one that builds confidence and trust in a system that has done harm to too many people for too long,” Pritzker said at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law.
Pritzker signed three other pieces of legislation addressing parts of the criminal justice system:
  • Allows state’s attorneys to petition a court to re-sentence someone whose original sentence “no longer advances the interests of justice.”
  • Bars anything said or done during a restorative justice hearing from being used against someone in court unless that protection is waived.
  • Creates a re-sentencing task force to study ways to reduce the state’s prison population through re-sentencing motions.
More news you need
  1. Mayor Lightfoot today announced a $1 million reward fund for information that leads to the seizure of illegal firearms, saying Chicagoans are afraid of being gunned down in the streets. The reward is the first in a series of steps to address the heightened level of violence in the city, she said.
  2. An off-duty Chicago cop driving a pickup truck struck and killed a 9-year-old riding his bike last night in West Rogers Park. The boy’s family said he was heading home after playing at a friend’s house, while the head of the police union called the incident “sad all around.”
  3. The ACLU of Illinois has sued the Chicago Police Department to obtain records about a social media monitoring team that was launched amid last summer’s unrest. The suit seeks an order compelling CPD to release the documents after officials refused to hand them over in response to public records requests.
  4. A 73-year-old Vietnam veteran out running errands has died after being punched by carjackers at a shopping plaza in Hyde Park yesterday. “This isn’t worth it. Someone loves this person, someone needs this person in their life,” his daughter said.
  5. After retiring Inspector General Joe Ferguson recently recommended City Council be deprived of the power to hand-pick ward superintendents, Lightfoot said today that won’t happen. This puts her at odds with her own Department of Human Resources.
  6. Signs warning of a supposed program studying dog waste using drones and DNA have been seen posted in various places around the North Side. So, Neil Steinberg did some digging to get the scoop on the (alleged) poop surveillance conspiracy.
  7. A Cook County judge dismissed a defamation suit filed by former “Windy City Rehab” co-host Donovan Eckhardt against the program’s showrunners. The judge said Eckhardt’s contract called for legal disputes to be settled in a California courtroom.
  8. A proposal for a $60 million film studio in South Shore backed by TV producer Derek Dudley got a thumbs-up today from a city planning agency. The project would take over an empty parcel near the Chicago Skyway.
A bright one
A new musical comedy series developed by Cartoon Network Studios about two gifted dancers will have a decidedly Chicago tone. 
Cartoon Network Studios will collaborate with Academy Award-winning filmmaker and Northwest Side native Matthew A. Cherry and DePaul alumnus Chaz Bottoms to create “Battu,” an animated series following the lives of two dancers in Chicago — Otis and Jada — whose independent streak runs afoul of mainstream dance gatekeepers. 
The project is based on Bottoms’ animated short film, “Battu: An Animated Musical,” that is currently in production.
“Battu” is based on an animated short film by DePaul alumnus Chaz Bottoms. | Cartoon Network Studios
“Battu” is based on an animated short film by DePaul alumnus Chaz Bottoms. | Cartoon Network Studios
Bottoms met Cherry while the Loyola Academy alumnus was in the middle of a press tour for “Hair Love,” his short film that won an Oscar last year.
Cherry says “Battu” will be Chicago-based, as will be “Young Love,” his animated series based on the aforementioned short film. “Young Love” is scheduled to debut on HBO Max in 2022.
“Being from the city [we’re] trying to center projects that speak to a level of a more positive representation of the city — and all it represents. Hardworking individuals, strong middle class, and a lot of incredible contributions like art, entertainment, dance, and hip hop. I think the show really represents all of that,” Cherry said.
From the press box
Your daily question  ☕
What do you think of the latest push by Democrats in the U.S. Senate to legalize cannabis nationwide?
Reply to this email (please include your first name and where you live) and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.
Yesterday, we asked you: What do you think of the new pilot program that will have some 911 calls for mental health emergencies handled by mental health clinicians instead of cops? Here’s some of what you said…
“I live in a part of the city with a lot of assisted living communities. I have encountered many people having episodes where they could use some help, where their neighbors could use some relief as well - and I don’t call the cops because I don’t want anyone hurt or arrested. Being able to call someone who is trained and able to provide service for a person undergoing a health crisis would be wonderful. I 100% love this program.” — Meg Rhem
“Some 911 calls would be best handled by a mental health professional. Police may calm a situation, but it’s just a Band-Aid on domestic violence. A professional might be able to evaluate that a person should be removed from a home, and we need to make services available to do this.” — Phyllis Hahn
“I think both mental health clinicians and police together on calls is a good start — on lots of calls involving actual people vs. robberies or car accidents, etc. Evaluate after 6 months to see the effect. We need more than just police. We need community response. Of course, the mental health clinicians may need some police training as well as police needing mental health training.” — Debbie Mytych
“I’ve had mental health issues in the past, it’s only safe if they do not come with weapons in hand — all I can say.” — Violetka Ewa
“I think it’s great! Police officers rarely have the training to deal with mentally ill people. I also think they should accompany a mental health clinician. I have a mentally ill brother who has been MIA from his nursing home for more than 9 months. We have had to call the police on him more times than I can count and I must say that for the most part he was treated humanly.” — Jeannette Tinnelle
“Seems worth a try. Maybe dispatch only to calls where the suspect is unarmed? A lot of tough judgment calls here but it might de-escalate some incidents. Also, have a real cop respond but stay out unless needed. Spend money to help but also saves money in the long run?” — Chris Reubelt
“I think it’s great. That’s exactly how it should be. Not just here, but across the country, there are far too many cases of a wellness check or other mental health call resulting in someone being shot to death because police simply aren’t trained to deal effectively with these situations.” — Marilyn Rauch Cavicchia
“It makes sense — just like a cop not being expected to fight a fire, a mental health emergency should be handled by someone who’s gone through years of training and experience with the mentally ill. At the same time, because of the possibility that violence may erupt, having a cop nearby would also be necessary.” — Paul Lockwood
“I like the idea. As a retired nurse who worked with psychiatric patients, I know that how they are approached makes a huge difference.” — Cathy Miller Williams
“It’s a beautiful thing. Maybe these people will get some real help, instead of shot or jailed.” — Andrew Moody
Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.
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