The Rundown: Lightfoot and innocent until proven guilty

Plus, gas prices are getting higher and higher. Here’s what you need to know today.

Mayor Lightfoot
Mayor Lori Lightfoot at a press conference on Feb. 4, 2021. Lightfoot announced her reelection campaign on Tuesday. WBEZ
Mayor Lightfoot
Mayor Lori Lightfoot at a press conference on Feb. 4, 2021. Lightfoot announced her reelection campaign on Tuesday. WBEZ

The Rundown: Lightfoot and innocent until proven guilty

Plus, gas prices are getting higher and higher. Here’s what you need to know today.

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Good afternoon, it’s Tuesday! And I still can’t believe it’s June already. Not that I’m complaining. Who wants to relive the waking nightmare of going through 42 days without sunshine? Anyway, here’s what you need to know today.

1. Lightfoot, kicking off reelection campaign, faces criticism for saying people charged with violent crimes are “guilty”

You’ve probably already heard about Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s comments yesterday regarding people charged with violent crimes, saying “when those charges are brought, these people are guilty.”

Her remarks are extraordinary not just because she is a former federal prosecutor, but because Chicago has a long history of police misconduct that has resulted in wrongful convictions.

“For decades, the city has shamefully disregarded the presumption of innocence — which applies to everyone, regardless of the charge against them,” Cook County Public Defender Sharone R. Mitchell Jr. said in a statement. “As an attorney, the mayor knows that the criminal justice system is not designed to decide guilt early in a case.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

The mayor’s comments come as her strategy for next year’s election hinges in part on support from the city’s Black community, which has been disproportionately affected by police misconduct. She officially announced her bid for reelection in a video released this afternoon. [WBEZ]

And other mayoral candidates — such as Ald. Roderick Sawyer, state Rep. Kam Buckner and millionaire businessman Willie Wilson — are also counting on support from Black voters. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. Kids are wrongfully imprisoned in Illinois because the state’s child welfare agency says there is nowhere else for them to go

At least 84 young people in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services were left in a juvenile detention center last year after a judge had ordered their release, according to data from the Cook County chief judge’s office.

One boy, originally detained in a robbery case, wrongfully spent his 17th birthday incarcerated, reports WBEZ’s Patrick Smith. The boy is still being held more than eight months after a judge ordered him released.

“Every day they sit in the detention center…they are being harmed, and experiencing more trauma,” said Andrea Lubelfeld, chief of the juvenile justice division of the Cook County public defender’s office.

A spokesman for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said in a statement that officials are expanding facilities to help address the problem. [WBEZ]

3. Already high gas prices in Chicago are breaking new records

The average price of gas in the city was a record $5.76 per gallon on Monday, reports Block Club Chicago.

“It’s been an absolutely bonkers week. Gas prices have surged nationwide, a lot of that in the Great Lakes region,” said Patrick De Haan, an analyst who tracks gas prices across the nation for GasBuddy.

He says Chicago has broken new records every day since May 27. [Block Club Chicago]

The news comes as the World Bank warns the global economy “may be headed for years of weak growth and rising prices, a toxic combination that will test the stability of dozens of countries still struggling to rebound from the pandemic,” reports The Washington Post. [WaPo]

4. Democrats hope the televised Jan. 6 hearings will reframe the midterm elections

Lawmakers investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol will begin making their case to the public during a series of primetime hearings that begin on Thursday.

And Democrats, holding a slim majority in Congress, see the hearings as an opportunity to refocus the nation’s attention on the role Republicans played, reports The New York Times.

But it is “an uphill battle at a time when polls show that voters’ attention is focused elsewhere, including on inflation, rising coronavirus cases and record-high gas prices,” the Times reports. [NYT]

WBEZ will air live coverage of Thursday’s hearing starting at 7 p.m. CT. You can listen at 91.5 FM, online at or on the WBEZ app.

Speaking of the midterms, California and six other states are holding primary elections today that could have significant implications for the November election. [WaPo]

5. Ms. Marvel, out tomorrow, introduces the MCU’s first Muslim superhero

And The Associated Press has a charming profile of actor Iman Vellani, who plays Kamala Khan (aka Ms. Marvel) in the new Disney+ series.

Vellani says she is a massive Marvel fan, and she remembers the first time she discovered the Ms. Marvel comic book at a local store.

“I saw a girl who looked like me. She was Muslim and Pakistani and a superhero fanatic and I was Muslim, Pakistani and a superhero fanatic, so it worked out quite well,” she said.

“And I think my favorite part about the comic books was that it wasn’t about her religion or her culture or her ethnicity, it was about a fanfic-writing nerd, who just so happened to be Pakistani and just so happened to be Muslim. Those parts of her life motivated her and drove her as a character. She used her religion as a moral code. .. She never neglected her culture. It was something that kind of uplifted her journey.” [AP]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Illinois’ race for governor is once again clouded by deaths at veterans’ homes. [WBEZ]
  • The Chicago Police Department expands the eligibility for drug users to get treatment instead of jail. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Immigrant women in Chicago face unique challenges to overcoming domestic violence. [WBEZ]
  • Here’s information on how you can apply for city subsidies for security cameras for homes and GPS trackers for vehicles. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Oh, and one more thing …

Can I ask you for a favor? I try not to do this, but I’d appreciate it if you could hear me out.

Three investigations by my colleagues at WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times are up for a big award — the Better Government Association’s 2022 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Investigative Reporting Readers’ Choice Awards. (I know, a bit of a tongue twister.)

I’d appreciate it if you could cast a vote for who you think should win the award. Among the finalists is WBEZ’s “Buried Secrets,” which exposed Chicago’s lifeguard abuse scandal, resulting in the ouster of top officials at the city’s park district.

There’s also “Drowning in Debt” that put a spotlight on how Chicago homeowners, a majority located in Black neighborhoods, have racked up more than $421 million in water debt.

And there’s “GI Bill snafus widespread and longstanding, long-secret whistleblower investigation finds.” The investigation found that the federal government’s administration of the GI Bill could be at fault for veterans and their families having been denied money they were entitled to for college.

You can cast your vote before 11:59 p.m. on Friday in this link. [Better Government Association]

Tell me something good …

I’m thinking of taking a little weekend vacation, and I wanted to know if you had any recommendations for places that aren’t terribly far and perfect for a quick getaway from the city.

Susan Price writes:

“Try Starved Rock State Park. With both a hotel and cabin options, it is a comfortable place to stay. Beautiful hiking options, or just sit and look at the woods.

“For a little farther away but still less than a half-day drive, and a change from Lake Geneva, try Galena: charming old downtown, B&Bs there, rentals out in the Galena Territories, shopping, restaurants and fun old buildings to see in town, and plenty of nearby hiking opportunities outside town.”

And Lindsay writes:

“The Garden Grove Inn in Union Pier, MI is one exit from New Buffalo but feels like a world away from Chicago. Hillary, the proprietor, used to be a Chicagoan who is now living her dream running a dog-friendly BnB. The rooms are lovely, the bathrobes are cozy, and her blueberry muffins are divine!”

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