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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:56pm
Fri Aug 9, 2013

Northern Illinois Light Brigade Puts ALEC In The Spotlight

A few dozen activists and members of the Northern Illinois Light Brigade gathered near the Palmer House Hilton Thursday evening in an effort to shine some light, literally, on the pro-corporate and conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Thursday was day two of ALEC's 40th annual three-day conference, which is being held at the downtown hotel this week.

The light brigade illuminated large letter signs that read "Fight To End ALEC," and other slogans. The signs drew attention from curious people on the street as well as looks from likely ALEC members as they made their way in and out of the Palmer House.

Activist Bill Weiss, a Kirkland, Illinois resident, said ALEC creates legislation that hurts average people while filling the pockets of big corporations.

"As long as ALEC is allowed to continue to write our laws for us, they’re never going to be laws for the people," Weiss said. "They're always going to be laws for the corporations, and we can’t let that happen.”

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
3:38pm
Wed Aug 7, 2013

Protesters Stage 'Die-In' Against Stand Your Ground Laws Outside Of ALEC Conference (VIDEO)

On the first day of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) annual conference in Chicago, nearly 100 activists staged a “die-in” at the meeting's doors to protest the powerful right-wing policy group’s promotion of controversial Stand Your Ground gun laws.

“Stand Your Ground? I call them the ‘Shoot First Laws,’” said Carl Gibson, 26, co-founder of U.S. Uncut and participant in Wednesday’s action. “It’s not really standing your ground, it’s just a shoot first, ask questions later law and it enabled George Zimmerman to get away with murdering a child.”

ALEC is hosting its 40th national conference from August 7 to August 9 at the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago and, upset with the organization’s conservative agenda and impact on legislation, protesters kicked off a series of rallies and protests to be held throughout the week.

On Wednesday, as members of ALEC filtered into the hotel and prepared for the first day of the conference, roughly 80 protesters from a plethora of local grassroots organizations, such as Stand Up! Chicago and Action Now, “died” outside of the hotel’s lobby.

“ALEC is here today to push Stand Your Ground laws all across our nation. Do we want that,” asked Shani Smith, 38, a project organizer with Stand Up! Chicago, who participated in Wednesday's demonstration. “We are here today to stand up to ALEC and let them know that we will no longer allow them to terrorize working families.”

Quick Hit
by La Risa Lynch
2:48pm
Thu Aug 1, 2013

U.S. Rep. Rush Seeks Federal Funding To End Trauma Center Deserts

For Michael Dye, the death of his best friend is still raw. Dye wonders if his friend, 19 year-old Kevin Ambrose, would be alive today if Chicago’s South Side had a level-1 adult trauma center.

“We actually beat the ambulance to the hospital which was like a 30- to 45-minute ride at 11 p.m., which was surprising to me,” Dye said in detailing Ambrose's ambulance ride to Stroger Hospital after having been shot near the Green Line stop near 43rd Street in May.

Dye wondered why his friend wasn’t taken to either Provident Hospital or the University of Chicago (U of C) Medical Center. Instead, Ambrose, a Columbia College theatre student, was taken to Stroger, which is located nearly seven miles away from where he was shot — and is where he later died.

“It really hurts personally because Kevin’s chances of living would have been at a higher rate if he was taken to U of C or Provident or any other trauma center on the South Side, if we had one,” Dye, also 19, said.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:30pm
Mon Jul 22, 2013

Local Groups Call On Ferrara Candy Co. To End Racially Discriminatory Hiring Practices (VIDEO)

Community activists picketed outside Ferrara Candy Company’s Forest Park facility Monday, blasting the maker of Lemonheads and Red Hots for discriminating against African Americans in the temporary hiring process. They also demanded that the company put an end to its alleged exploitation of immigrant workers.

Organizers with the Coalition Against Segregation of Temporary Employees, the Westside Health Authority, and the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative, among other groups, said the candy company contracts much of its packing work out to temporary employment agencies Remedial Environmental Manpower (REM) and Labor Power.

The two temp agencies have mostly sent Latino workers to Ferrara's Forest Park facility and have largely shut out African-American applicants, the protestors alleged.

“We want to end the discrimination of African Americans and exploitation of immigrant workers,” said Elce Redmond with the South Austin Coalition Community Council. “The immigrant workers who come here have to work very, very long hours. Sometimes their wages are stolen from them, and if they complain, then people say, ‘We’ll call  ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement).’”

Quick Hit
by
1:36pm
Wed Jul 17, 2013

Op-Ed: Urban Agenda, 'Now Go Out and Make Me Do It' - Facade of Recovery Hides Broad Failures in Urban Areas

The following was written by Dick Simpson, former Chicago alderman and professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

American cities and metropolitan regions are in crisis. Suburbs as well as inner cities.

At Operation PUSH’s International Convention on July 7th, scholars, pubic officials, civil rights leaders, and citizens met to hammer out a new urban and metropolitan agenda to meet this crisis. There has not been a national urban agenda since the Carter administration three decades ago. The Office of Urban Affairs that President Obama opened when he went to the White House has been impotent.

Consider the magnitude of our urban problems. 500 hospitals have closed in the last two decades while three out of four urban emergency rooms are at or over capacity. Our health is at stake.

Not only is Chicago closing 50 public schools but in 2010 public school districts across the country closed 1,929 schools. Charter and private schools are growing instead. Meanwhile, college student loan debts exceed $1 trillion; the average graduating student owes $27,000. Our education system is failing.

There are more African-American adult males in prison, jail, or on parole than were enslaved in 1850 before the Civil War. Prisons have been privatized and we have a now prison-industrial complex housing too many of our residents.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
1:57pm
Tue Jul 16, 2013

Racial Justice Event Highlights Need For Solidarity Among U.S. Minority And Immigrant Communities (VIDEO)

Too seldom are cultural and ethnic barriers bridged between Chicago’s black and brown minority and immigrant communities, according to Alie Kabba, an immigrant from Sierra Leone and executive director of the Chicago-based United African Organization (UAO).

Dubbed the Racial Justice Roundtable, UAO hosted its third and final workshop on the effect of racism and racial inequality on immigrant and minority communities over the weekend. The workshop highlighted different forms of racial inequality, including institutional and structural racism, and discussed the need for all communities of color to come together on a unified mission for social justice.

“Too often we work within different silos and we are never really connected,” said Kabba regarding Illinois’ numerous immigrant rights and advocacy organizations. “We want to make sure those of us engaged in the work of social justice are building black-brown alliances and starting to use a racial justice lens in our discourse about public policy issues and their impact on our communities.”

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
2:00pm
Tue Jul 2, 2013

Legal Experts: SCOTUS Decision Leaves Affirmative Action ‘Up In The Air’

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to send a case involving the University of Texas at Austin’s race-conscious admissions policy back to a lower court for a second look. We explore what the decision means for affirmative action programs in the nation's colleges and universities.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
1:12pm
Mon May 20, 2013

CPS Policies Reinforce Segregation In Chicago, Finds CTU Report

On the 59-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision to end segregation in public schools, Brown v. Board of Education, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) released a report claiming widespread segregation still exists in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the district’s administration is doing nothing to address it.

In the 2011-2012 school year, 69 percent of African-American students in CPS were in schools with more than 90 percent of the student body composed of the same ethnicity, according to Friday’s report, titled “Still Separate, Still Unequal” (PDF).

“The newest CPS leadership frames the district’s current inequities as an inevitable result of demographic trends,” the report reads. “Their fraudulent attempts to absolve corporate reform of any culpability in our separate and unequal school system are an extension of the resistance that enforcement of desegregation faced in the decades after Brown v Board.”

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