WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: What’s Changed Since George Floyd’s Murder?

A woman holds a sign during a George Floyd protest in Lincoln Park
A woman holds a sign during a protest in Lincoln Park on June 2, 2020, over the police murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
A woman holds a sign during a George Floyd protest in Lincoln Park
A woman holds a sign during a protest in Lincoln Park on June 2, 2020, over the police murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

WBEZ’s Rundown Of Today’s Top News: What’s Changed Since George Floyd’s Murder?

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Good afternoon! It’s Monday, and I can’t get over how easy it looks when Simone Biles makes history. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. What’s changed one year after the murder of George Floyd

Thousands of people are expected to gather around the country this week to remember George Floyd, who was murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin during a May 25, 2020 arrest.

The killing, which was captured on cellphone video, sparked protests over racism and police violence in Black communities. During the height of the demonstrations, some governments and businesses pledged to enact systemic changes in an attempt to fight racism.

But what’s actually changed?

In Chicago, some of the largest corporations now tie executives’ pay to diversity goals and have created grants for home down payments. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Community leaders in Chicago say progress on police reform has been “disappointing.” This year, the Chicago Police Department once again fell short of goals mandated by a federal consent decree. And, activists continue to press for civilian oversight of police and non-police alternatives to respond to mental health crises. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s a look at the work of four Chicagoans who became activists during the past year’s events. [Chicago Tribune].

2. Archdiocese reinstates Fr. Michael Pfleger after sexual abuse investigation

Father Michael Pfleger, a nationally known anti-gun violence advocate, was reinstated today as the leader of Saint Sabina Church in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood. Earlier this year, three men accused Pfleger of sexually abusing them decades ago.

Since the accusations first emerged, many parishioners supported Pfleger with rallies, phone calls and letters to the archdiocese. Church leaders even threatened to withhold $100,000 in monthly dues.

In a letter to the congregation, the Archdiocese of Chicago wrote it found “insufficient reason to suspect” Pfleger is guilty of sexual abuse. Cardinal Blase Cupich said he accepts the finding of the archdiocese’s Independent Review Board, and Pfleger will return to the church as pastor the first weekend of June. [AP]

You can read the full letter in the link. [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. Biden doubles funding to prepare for extreme weather

Ahead of hurricane season, President Joe Biden is expected to announce today he is doubling the federal funding to help communities prepare for extreme weather and launching a new NASA effort to collect more sophisticated climate data.

About 40% of the additional money will go to disadvantaged areas, according to the Biden administration.

“While the $1 billion in funding is a fraction of what taxpayers spend each year on disasters, it underscores a broader effort to account for the damage wrought by climate change and curb it,” according to The Washington Post. “Last week the president signed an executive order instructing federal agencies to identify and disclose the perils a warming world poses to federal programs, assets and liabilities, while also requiring federal suppliers to reveal their own climate-related risks.” [Post]

4. Illinois lawmakers have a lot on their plate this week

Illinois lawmakers have a slew of issues to address before the spring session ends next Monday, including passing a new state budget and negotiating an elected school board in Chicago.

And a series of proposals about lobbying, ethics and energy policy are on the table amid an ongoing federal investigation following the Commonwealth Edison lobbying scandal.

Democrats are also scrambling to redraw the state’s political boundaries because of population loss. And that mapmaking debate could cut into time for other issues. [WBEZ]

Illinois Democrats on Friday night released new legislative maps that aim to serve as a template to control Springfield through the 2020s and protect the political clout of African American and Latino communities throughout the state. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, lawmakers are also considering a bill that would require teaching Asian American history, with the hope of combating anti-Asian violence and hate. [WBEZ]

5. New COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are the lowest since last June

The seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has dropped below 30,000 per day for the first time since June 18, 2020. Hospitalizations and deaths are also steadily declining.

Experts say the improving numbers are the result of more than 60% of the U.S. population over 18 having received at least one shot, and almost half are fully vaccinated. However, they also warned that too many people remain unvaccinated to extinguish the virus, and new variants could extend the pandemic. [AP]

Cook County remains in line with the national average with about 50% of adults being fully vaccinated. You can see how other countries are doing in the link. [New York Times]

And here’s a look at what Chicago’s fight against the pandemic could teach us about fixing health care. [WBEZ]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Belarus faces sanctions after being accused of scrambling a warplane to intercept a jetliner and arrest a journalist. [Reuters]

  • A key witness during the Trump impeachment trial is suing Mike Pompeo and the U.S. government for $1.8 million for legal fees. [NPR]

  • Twelve people were killed and 42 wounded in Chicago shootings, the worst gun violence of 2021. [Chicago Sun-Times]

  • This week marks the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

Did you take in a furry work-from-home companion? I did, and it seems there’s a lot of us who are now facing the next pandemic challenge: helping our pups transition to a new normal that doesn’t include our presence 99.9% of the time.

“Dogs in their perfect world would just be sitting on your laps, and that’s really what they did for a year,” said Betsy Puterbaugh, who co-owns a Chicago-area dog daycare. “No matter what you do, you’re about to mess up their perfect world.”

But don’t fret! Here are some expert tips to help your dog become more independent, from creating a new schedule to building up the number of hours the pup is left alone. [Chicago Tribune]

Cat parent? Here’s some tips for the felines. [Metro UK]

Tell me something good …

This summer, WBEZ’s Reset is re-imagining how Chicago could function better for all its residents. We want to hear from you!

So far, Chicagoans have said they want better access to public transit, access to city-wide mental health care and quicker fixes for potholes.

That has me wondering: What investments would you like to see in your neighborhood?

Feel free to tweet or email me your responses, and they might be shared here this week.

Thanks for reading and have a nice night! We’ll see you tomorrow.