Good afternoon. It’s Thursday, and there’s a lot of late-breaking news. Here’s what you need to know today.
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Chicago officials today released footage of the controversial shooting that has reignited criticism of the police department and its use of force.
What the footage shows: The teenager is seen raising his hands above his head and complying with police commands when he was shot.
One video appears to show the boy holding a gun behind his back an instant before the officer opened fire, but he does not appear to be holding a weapon as he raised his hands above his head. [WBEZ]
The videos released today provide some answers about what happened the night Adam was killed. Here are some questions that remain unanswered.
Who was the cop who shot Adam? Authorities still have not released the name of the officer. To put that in perspective, the name of the officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright in Minnesota was released just days after the shooting.
Will the officer be charged? The Civilian Office of Police Accountability is still conducting an investigation into Adam’s shooting, and it’s not clear when their probe will come to an end.
If the officer is charged, can Cook County prosecutors handle the case or does it have to go to a special prosecutor? During a bond hearing for a 21-year-old man who was with Adam the night he died, Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said Adam had “a gun in his right hand.”
But shortly before the videos were released today, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office said the prosecutor “failed to fully inform himself before speaking in court.”
What is the lasting political damage to Lightfoot? Mayor Lori Lightfoot almost immediately faced criticism over the handling of the shooting. And the shooting comes as critics accuse Lightfoot of slow walking police reforms she campaigned on.
The number of coronavirus cases is still rising, but the rate seems to be slowing down. As of yesterday, Illinois was reporting a seven-day average of 3,354 cases per day, up 11% from last week.
And in Chicago, the seven-day average is 722 cases per day, up 17% from the previous week. Both of those percentages are much smaller than what we were seeing earlier this month.
Gov. JB Pritzker recently said the state’s rise in cases appears to be flattening, but he warned that could change.
“We are seeing upward movement of our cases and hospitalizations, obviously, but we have seen a beginning of — maybe a lessening of the rise of cases,” Pritzker said. “I don’t want to predict anything because this virus is unpredictable, but I think at least in the short term that seems to be good news.” [Chicago Sun-Times]
Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union have reached a tentative deal that provides wins for both sides. The agreement now goes before the union’s governing body, called the House of Delegates, which is expected to take a vote later today.
For the school district, it allows high school students to return to classrooms on Monday without a delay. The biggest win for the union is a vaccination program for students and hard-hit communities. Details of the agreed to program have not yet been released.
CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said the next goal is to try to force CPS into collaborating with the union and parents on how to spend $1.8 billion in federal funds provided under the last big stimulus package. [WBEZ]
In a hopeful sign that the U.S. economy is rebounding, the Labor Department today reported about 576,000 people filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week. That’s the lowest number we’ve seen since the pandemic decimated the economy.
And the good news doesn’t stop there: More Americans were spending money last month. The Commerce Department today announced retail sales surged to 9.8% in March, that largest increase since May.
Economists say they are increasingly optimistic that the economy will take off like a rocket now that the end of the pandemic is in sight.
“Today’s report shows just how willing American consumers are to spend when the means and options are available,” said TD Bank economist Maria Solovieva. “Fast vaccination and removal of restrictions burst the spending floodgates wide open.” [AP]
A study commissioned by Gov. JB Pritzker argues two northern Illinois nuclear power plants need roughly $350 million in ratepayer subsidies over five years in order to keep them running, reports WBEZ’s Dave McKinney.
The study comes as the governor wants to expand clean-energy in Illinois. But Exelon has repeatedly argued it will have to shut down the two financially ailing power plants unless it gets help.
The Dresden and Byron nuclear plants account for about 30% of the state’s carbon-free energy supply, according to Exelon. Together, they employ about 1,500 full-time workers. [WBEZ]
Here’s what else is happening
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will not testify as his murder trial approaches closing arguments on Monday. [NPR]
President Joe Biden announced new sanctions on Russia for Moscow’s election meddling, a computer hacking that infiltrated several federal agencies and Russia’s continued occupation of Crimea. [NPR]
Biden is preparing to take action on climate change through an executive order. [Politico]
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin said they don’t want to expand the Supreme Court without further study. [Washington Post]
Oh, and one more thing …
Ever thought about being buried in a hot dog? Or a coffin that looks like it was built from Lego bricks? A New Zealand-based business called Dying Art “custom builds colorful coffins,” reports The Associated Press. (Yes, there are photos.)
One New Zealand man was laid to rest in a giant cream donut.
“It overshadowed the sadness and the hard times in the last few weeks,” said his widow. “The final memory in everyone’s mind was of that donut and Phil’s sense of humor.” [AP]
Tell me something good …
How are you preparing to go back to the office when this pandemic is over?
“I’m retired, so I’m not going back to any office. Instead I’m abandoning Chicago for year-round warmth and sunshine in Arizona.”
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