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Chicago violence

Police tape marks off a Chicago street as officers investigate the scene of a fatal shooting in the city’s South Side on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. An argument in a house erupted into gunfire early Tuesday, police said.

Teresa Crawford

WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: Dems Face Big Test On Crime

Good afternoon! It’s Tuesday, and I am so sleepy because I couldn’t get this song out of my head last night. Here’s what you need to know today.

(By the way, if you’d like this emailed to your inbox, you can sign up here.)

1. Biden is expected to lay out an anti-crime plan as cities report a surge in violence

President Joe Biden is expected to unveil a plan this week in response to a wave of homicides across the country that could be the beginning of a very violent summer, according to The Washington Post.

As the newspaper reports, the issue puts Democrats in a difficult position, as the more liberal wing of the party advocates for rethinking traditional policing under the “defund the police” slogan.

Political observers believe “defund the police” prevented Democrats from gaining more seats in Congress in last year’s election. And the recent rise in violence could further turn off voters in next year’s midterms, they say. [WaPo]

Meanwhile, seven people were killed and nine others were wounded in shootings in Chicago yesterday, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The violence comes after a weekend that saw more than 50 people shot, seven fatally. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. Effort to rename Lake Shore Drive could reemerge tomorrow

The Chicago City Council could take a vote tomorrow on a plan to rename Lake Shore Drive in honor of Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, a Black man widely recognized as the area’s first non-Indigenous settler.

Aldermen today are trying to reach a compromise between supporters and critics of the plan, but it’s unclear if those efforts will be successful, report WBEZ’s Mariah Woelfel and Becky Vevea.

Proponents say DuSable has long been ignored in the city’s history and renaming the drive after him would make his contributions to the city unavoidable. But critics say they are concerned about the headaches the street’s renaming would cause for downtown residents and businesses.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has instead proposed the creation of an annual DuSable festival and sprucing up an existing DuSable Park, among other things. [WBEZ]

3. Spread of dangerous Delta variant could mean the U.S. will see COVID-19 surges next month

A new study suggests the Delta variant, which was first identified in India, could dominate the U.S., raising concerns from health experts as the pace of vaccinations slows down.

Researchers project that Delta could lead to moderate surges of COVID-19 in many areas of the U.S. with pockets of unvaccinated Americans, NPR reports. These surges might appear sometime next month if vaccinations continue to stall. [NPR]

In Illinois, nearly 52% of residents 12 years old and over are fully vaccinated, according to state officials. Almost 68% are at least partially vaccinated. [IDPH]

Meanwhile, the U.S. will narrowly miss President Biden’s goal of having at least 70% of adults partially vaccinated by July 4. [NPR]

4. Chicago Public Schools lays off more than 440 teachers and staff members

The Chicago Teachers Union is blasting district officials for laying off 443 teachers and support staff members when Chicago Public Schools has almost $2 billion in federal funds, reports the Chicago Tribune.

CTU President Jesse Sharkey told the newspaper that the highest number of layoffs took place in North Lawndale and Little Village, which were disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

A CPS spokesman said the district will have more than 2,000 open positions for the next academic year, “which far exceeds the number of teachers and staff impacted.” [Chicago Tribune]

5. The looming eviction crisis

A recent report from Block Club Chicago suggests Chicago could be falling behind in combating evictions as a statewide moratorium is expected to end in August.

The website reports city residents have requested a total of $137 million in aid, far more than the roughly $80 million set aside for rental assistance by Mayor Lightfoot’s administration. Parts of the South and West sides saw more applications for relief compared to the North Side. [Block Club Chicago]

More than 8 million people across the nation face the risk of foreclosure or eviction, a recent study from Harvard University found, and low-income families and people of color are disproportionately affected. The study comes as a federal moratorium is set to expire at the end of the month. [CBS News]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Senate Republicans are poised to block a massive elections and voting rights bill, raising hard questions for Democrats on how they can carry out their legislative agenda. [NPR]
  • A recent dip in lumber prices is fueling hope that inflation may be easing. [NPR]
  • NASA and Procter & Gamble are teaming up to tackle dirty laundry in space. [AP]
  • Have a favorite sci-fi or fantasy book? NPR wants to know. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

Yup, it’s UFO time again. As you probably already know, a highly anticipated federal report about unidentified flying objects is expected to be released this summer. And the Chicago Tribune checked in with local UFO enthusiasts.

“A lot of people understand now that we are not alone in this universe,” Carlos Dominguez, a restaurant manager who runs the UFO Chicago Facebook group, told the newspaper.

More than 2,750 UFO sightings have been reported in Illinois since 1947, according to the National UFO Reporting Center. That includes a 2006 incident where a dozen United Airlines workers at O’Hare International Airport said they saw a strange, disc-like object in the sky.

“I tend to be scientific by nature, and I don’t understand why aliens would hover over a busy airport,” a United mechanic told the newspaper. “But I know that what I saw and what a lot of other people saw stood out very clearly, and it definitely was not [a human-built] aircraft.” [Trib]

Tell me something good ...

It’s officially summer now, and I’d like to know: What are your summer plans?

Ren writes:

“It’s summer so I’m looking forward to seeing the sun as much as possible and feeling the warmth on my skin!”

Feel free to email me at therundown@wbez.org or tweet me at @whuntah.

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