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Commentary: A Time For Action

22 hours ago
UIS

The following commentary was written by Dr. Robert Smith, Dean of the College of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Illinois Springfield.  

Protesters march on Capitol Avenue in Springfield Monday against police brutality. The rally and march were organized by young people.
Mike Smith / NPR Illinois

On Monday, Allaijah Davis and her friends Nykeyla Henderson and Ariona Fairlee led an estimated 1,000 peaceful demonstrators down Capitol Avenue in Springfield.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Protests and in some cities looting and destruction the past week in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police have taken place nationwide and in Illinois.  On this week's program, a discussion of the causes and consequences, and the reactions of the Governor and the Mayor of Chicago.

The Chicago Sun Times' Maudlyne Ihejirika joins the panel.

Poynter Institute

In the midst of protests this week, there were plenty of messages sent along on social media about looting.  In some areas, those messages were just outright wrong. 

There were many incidents of vandalism and looting across Illinois. There were also false reports.  In some towns, the violence was non-existent. Some posted and passed along rumors of busloads of people coming to towns to loot. They were not.  

It has been an emotional and turbulent week in Illinois and across the country. 

While many have made their voices heard about issues like police brutality and systemic racism, others are picking up the pieces after vandalism and looting, often in communities of color. 

And the biggest question still looming is what happens next?  On this week's Statewide, we hear from those who say people and policies need to change.   

Haley Pate, Biron Butler and Korde Gardener protesting
Mike Smith / NPR Illinois

Black Lives Matter protests in Springfield continued Wednesday. Young activists said they aren't giving up on voicing their concerns anytime soon. 

At least three Illinois House members say they want a special legislative session to strike on issues of law enforcement reform and accountability while police brutality has the nation’s focus.

A longtime higher education leader will be the interim chancellor at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Karen Whitney will take over for Susan Koch, who is retiring at the end of the month.   Whitney will serve in the interim role while a national search is conducted for a permanent chancellor.

Black Lives Matter protesters march down Sixth Street in downtown Springfield.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

At Tuesday’s Springfield City Council meeting, several officials praised protesters who took the streets in the capital city for being peaceful. A few amplified the message of speakers at the anti-police brutality protests.

Illinois Allows Carry-Out Mixed Drinks

Jun 2, 2020
Edwin Land/flickr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

Illinois bars and restaurants can now serve mixed-drinks to go.   Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the measure into law Tuesday.  

Olivia Mitchell/NPR Illinois

More than a thousand demonstrators shouting ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘No Justice, No Peace’ took to the streets in Springfield again Monday, demanding an end to racial injustices.

Sam Dunklau, via Welch & Buckner Twitter pages / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

As outrage and protest against police brutality and racial injustice has spilled into the streets of cities across the country, several Black Illinois state lawmakers are offering their plans for how to fix those problems.

Thousands of cars circled downtown Springfield Sunday afternoon to protest recent police killings.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Springfield city officials called for residents to stay home Sunday night around 8:30 p.m.

Police Chief Kenny Winslow said they made the decision after receiving information of potential “civil disturbances." He declined to elaborate on specifics.

City officials emphasized it was not a curfew, but a request.

The call comes as protests against police brutality in cities around the country have erupted into violence. Sunday afternoon, Gov. J.B. Pritzker authorized National Guard troops to be deployed to Chicago, which has been under a curfew.

IIS

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said he is worried the mass protests over police brutality happening across the country could spread the coronavirus. 

Memorial Health System's Respiratory Clinic is on Sixth Street in Springfield.
Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois

More than two months after Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared testing would be key to Illinois’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, coronavirus testing is still limited in Sangamon County.

Meanwhile, state officials report more than 13,600 tests done in the county. Local officials, however, estimate that with repeat tests and people from outside the county limits screened here, only 5,600 individual Sangamon County residents have been tested.

A look at the numbers from one recent week provides a window into the complexities underlying the stats published by health authorities.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

As Illinois enters Phase Three of "Restore Illinois", Governor Pritzker is responding to  criticism and lawsuits surrounding his re-opening plan.  Meanwhile, the Illinois General Assembly wrapped up its short special legislative session last weekend after passing a state budget. The panel also discusses a controversy over whether or not lawmakers will see their pay go up.

Capitol News Illinois’ Rebecca Anzel joins the panel.

violin
Jose Zaragoza / flickr.com/jose_zaragoza

Bob Meyer talks with Ken Lam, Music Director and Conductor of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, and Trevor Orthmann, the ISO's Executive Director, about the new Sunday at Six Recital Series.  With live performances still on hold due to the pandemic, the ISO is taking the music online for the month of June.

The Sunday at Six Recital Series premieres this weekend - Sunday evening at six o'clock - on the Illinois Symphony Orchestra's YouTube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/user/ilsymphonyorch

Damon and Aidan McParland pose for a photo
Damon McParland

While residents of Springfield wait for Gov. J.B. Pritzker to end his stay-at-home order, two members of the community have gathered their bagpipes to lift the city’s spirits and raise money during the pandemic. Reporter Mike Smith watched them perform and has this story.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker today (Thursday) announced new guidance for places of worship. It comes as he has faced multiple lawsuits over his ban on gatherings of more than 10 people. Pritzker now says faith leaders should try to limit attendance to a quarter of a building’s capacity or 100 attendees, whichever is lower, along with social distancing. 

Reginald Hardwick/Illinois Newsroom

As University of Illinois officials deliberate over how to reopen the Urbana campus this fall, a group of faculty members say they don’t believe the university can safely allow tens of thousands of students back into residence halls and classrooms this year. 

This week, some employers are having difficulty reopening their businesses because many workers don't want to come back.  While there are health concerns, it also comes down to dollars and cents.  

Self-testing for COVID-19 could play a key role in fully reopening the economy.  But what are the concerns?  

Also, most rural hospitals have faced challenges preparing for the pandemic, even as they've seen fewer cases of the coronavirus disease. 

Those stories and more on this episode of Statewide.

Portillo's Oaklawn Facebook Page

Although the hospitality industry continues to struggle, Portillo's, a Chicago-area restaurant chain unveiled plans for a Springfield location, its fourth in central Illinois.

The restaurant, known for their Chicago-Style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches, announced plans to open in Springfield in late 2021 at the site of a closed pharmacy at Veteran’s Parkway and Lindbergh Boulevard, on the southwest side of town.

Ward 10 Ald. Ralph Hanauer, who represents the area, said he has no concern about the restaurant opening up, even during the pandemic.

The Pandemic On Main Street: As State Restrictions Relax, Local Leaders Face Tough Choices

May 28, 2020
Jamey Dunn-Thomason / Institute of Government and Public Affairs

Editor’s Note: The Institute of Government and Public Affairs assembled a task force of interdisciplinary faculty experts from all three universities in the University of Illinois System to assess COVID-19’s effects on the state. This essay represents the work of several task force members to create a roadmap for safely reopening the state’s economy.

Mike Miletich / via Twitter

Close to two dozen staff and community members protested outside the State Journal-Register’s newsroom in Springfield Wednesday, demanding the paper's corporate owner reconsider a change to the newspaper's printing schedule.

Kenneth Lu / via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Illinois is on track for salons, some offices and outdoor seating at restaurants to open this weekend as the state moves into its next phase of reopening. The state’s movie theaters, which have been shut down since March, said Wednesday they want to welcome customers during that phase too.

Screenshot of J.B. Pritzker via Blue Room Stream
Blue Room Stream / Blue Room Stream

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a health organization in East St. Louis will lend its help to the state's COVID-19 contact tracing initiative. Meanwhile, the governor said Wednesday the state’s casinos will remain shuttered for now.

DONNIE NUNLEY / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Child care facilities will be able to operate again once Illinois enters the third phase of its reopening plan, which is expected Friday. 

Fighting The Flood And COVID-19 At The Same Time

May 27, 2020
State of Illinois

Flooding is beginning to feel like an annual event in some areas along the Illinois River.  The governor and head of the Illinois Emergency Management agency visited flood fighting efforts in west-central Illinois  Wednesday.

Protesters gather outside the Bank of Springfield Center as state lawmakers prepare to convene on May 20.
Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois

Some Springfield City Council members questioned the mayor and the police chief about the city’s response to protests at the Capitol late last week, saying it was more permissive than the response they’re seeing in some neighborhoods. A few also reacted to a racial slur found spray painted at a local park.

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