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corner of Washington and Michigan

The corner of E. Washington Street and N. Michigan Avenue, where hundreds of teens gathered Saturday night, causing damage to vehicles and violence in the Loop.

Anthony Vazquez

The Rundown: Downtown attack raises questions at CPD

Good afternoon! And happy 4/20 to those who celebrate. Speaking of which, new research shows cannabis may not make you more creative despite popular opinion. (Takes a deep breath and rests head on desk.) Here’s what else you need to know today.

1. Chicago Police officers are accused of failing to stop an attack during last weekend’s chaotic downtown gatherings

A video widely circulating on social media shows a crowd of people attacking a woman over the weekend as hundreds of young people gathered downtown.

Ashley Knutson and her boyfriend, Devontae “DJ” Garrison-Johnson, were walking through a crowd Saturday when someone shoved Knutson, according to media and police reports.

Garrison-Johnson told the crowd to not push Knutson, and “as soon as he said that, everything went crazy,” Knutson told NBC Chicago.

Now, a good samaritan tells the Chicago Sun-Times that she tried flagging down officers in a squad car who instead drove away, an accusation that is being investigated by the Chicago Police Department.

“It kind of made me feel like the keys to the city were being handed over to this mob,” Lenora Dennis said days after helping the couple to safety. “I don’t want to demonize the kids, but, at the same time, there has to be a level of accountability for the things that they were doing.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

Meanwhile, interim Chicago Police Superintendent Eric Carter announced today he will resign and officially retire on May 15. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. Chicago Park District employees are accused of defrauding federal pandemic-aid programs

The Chicago Park District joins several other government agencies with employees accused of defrauding federal COVID-19 relief programs, report my colleagues Dan Mihalopoulos and Frank Main. And the list may continue to grow.

An ongoing investigation at the park district has prompted six employees to resign and five others to face disciplinary action, according to a report from the agency’s interim inspector general.

Park district officials said they were “extremely disturbed to learn that some employees falsified documents” to get loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, which was created in the early days of the pandemic to help struggling businesses.

Similar allegations have been made against workers in several branches of Cook County government. And the inspector general for Chicago said this week her office is investigating whether any of the city’s roughly 30,000 employees have committed such fraud. [WBEZ]

3. What does a series of shootings over trivial things say about the nation?

A 16-year-old was shot in Kansas City when he went to the wrong house to pick up his younger brothers.

Two cheerleaders in Texas were shot after one tried getting into the wrong car after practice.

And a 6-year-old girl and her parents were shot in North Carolina as they tried to retrieve a basketball that went into a neighbor’s yard.

“In a nation where strangers are all too often seen as threats and fear has been politicized, honest mistakes and simple acts like going to the wrong address or car in a parking lot, or even just ringing the wrong doorbell, can seem like a fateful question of trust,” reports The Associated Press, which takes a deep dive into what may be behind this wave of shootings. [AP]

4. Something else owned by Elon Musk blew up in flames

SpaceX’s Starship rocket, the most powerful spacecraft to launch, exploded about four minutes after liftoff and failed to reach orbit today.

It is not clear what caused the uncrewed flight rocket to come apart, but a livestream of the launch appeared to show some of the 39 engines had malfunctioned, NPR reports.

But the launch wasn’t a complete failure.

As NPR reports: “SpaceX staff still cheered as Starship went down in flames. Successfully lifting the 400-foot-tall rocket off the launch pad is still a big step forward to its ultimate goal of one day ferrying humans to the moon and Mars, SpaceX says.” [NPR]

Elsewhere in Elon Musk’s orbit, Tesla’s dominance appears to be fading. [Axios]

Over on Twitter, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation paused its activity on the social media platform after Twitter labeled the public broadcaster as “government-funded media.” [AP]

5. You may be eligible for another Facebook payment

If you’ve used Facebook in the last 16 years, you may be eligible for a payment from a $750 million settlement in a lawsuit accusing the social media giant of sharing users’ data without their consent, reports my colleague Ellery Jones.

“The lawsuit stems from the 2018 scandal involving Cambridge Analytica,” Jones reports. “Facebook disclosed that nearly 87 million users had their personal information collected by the data-mining company affiliated with former President Donald Trump’s campaign.”

People in the U.S. who used Facebook between 2007 and 2022 can file a claim here.

The payment amount is unclear and will depend on how many people apply. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson selected a City Hall veteran to serve as his chief of staff. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s electronic monitoring rules are ambiguous, an appeals court finds. [WBEZ]
  • The marijuana industry has too much pot. [AP]
  • A feral cat-hunting contest for kids was called off in New Zealand. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

Chicago is full of parties, but Eden holds a special place, writes my colleague Maggie Sivit.

Hosted by a bar in Pilsen, Eden provided a sense of safety and familiarity for lesbians in a city where queer spaces are often dominated by gay men.

“I created Eden because it was a party that I wanted to go to,” said Alessandra Rios. “I want to be gay. I want to dance to reggaetón. I want to see my friends. I want to flirt, I want to dance, I want to drink. And I don’t want anyone to judge me.”

So when the city shut down the party in October, citing ordinance violations on the part of the bar, Rios worked tirelessly to prevent Eden from becoming another lost queer space. And the party’s comeback this weekend at Metro promises to be a 5AM-er. [WBEZ]

Tell me something good ...

What is your favorite game to play? It can be a video game, board game or whatever. And it can either be a game you enjoy now or when you were a kid.

Linda Rockwell writes:

“My husband and I met 26 years ago through playing tournament backgammon. We still enjoy playing with the two Chicago area clubs that meet weekly, as well as traveling to tournaments around the country.

“It’s sort of an underground community with people all over the world who continued to play online during the pandemic but are happy to be back to playing in person. There’s a four-day event in Chicago every Memorial Day weekend where we’ll see friends from all over the world we’ve met through our shared enjoyment of this great board game.”

And Karla A. writes:

“I couldn’t go without mentioning my mother-in-law, Debbie, who will be undergoing back surgery this week. She’s the keeper of many of her family’s game traditions.

“Scrabble: her and her mom would play while cooking for the big holidays. Michigan rummy: she unites her siblings from every corner of Cook County to play every week. And euchre: the game that unites the three generations in their family. Get well quickly, Debbie!”

Feel free to email me, and your response might be shared in the newsletter this week.

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