Listen

Cheryl Corley

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Before his positive coronavirus test, President Trump had traveled throughout the country this week to Ohio, Minnesota and New Jersey. That's now launched a full-scale effort at contact tracing throughout the president's campaign stops. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

For months, protests over the police involved killing of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, George Floyd in Minnesota and others around the country reinvigorated an intense debate over policing. Then when Greg Fischer, mayor of Louisville, Ky., recently announced the city would pay $12 million to Taylor's family and institute a number of police reforms, that highlighted an aspect less discussed — the financial impact of police misconduct on cities and taxpayers.

Across the country, we've seen massive change brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, including a dramatic drop in the overall crime rate.

David Abrams, a University of Pennsylvania law and economics professor, has been keeping an eye on numbers across the country. The website he created details what's been happening with crime in more than 25 major cities during the COVID-19 crisis.

When COVID-19 first hit the United States, it spread through communities of color at alarmingly disproportionate rates.

This was especially true in Chicago. More than 70% of the city's first coronavirus deaths were among African Americans. Those numbers have declined, but black residents continue to die at a rate two to three times higher than the city's white residents. Researchers believe underlying health conditions that are prevalent in Latinx and black communities, such as hypertension and diabetes, make residents there more vulnerable to the disease.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Gun and ammunition sales often spike during a crisis. That's exactly what's been happening now with the cornonavirus threat. Many gun buyers say they want to be ready with protection if there's panic.

Just a few miles from the Los Angles Airport, a group of people, including families with children playing video games, lined up outside LAX Ammo in Inglewood. A store employee checks IDs and tells potential customers what caliber ammunition is in stock. Answering questions, he tells the crowd he has .45 caliber and .38 Special.

One of the first things visitors see as they walk through the ornate ground floor of Chicago's landmark Cultural Center is a cluster of four glass houses. Each has 700 glass brick openings — a stark, physical reminder of the average number of people killed by guns each week in the country. Designers of the Gun Violence Memorial Project say just as the AIDS Memorial Quilt raised awareness about a deadly disease, they want their focus on victims of gunfire to bring widespread attention to what they consider another epidemic.

A group of registered sex offenders in Aurora, Ill. — about 40 miles outside of Chicago — could face felony charges if they don't move out of their home. The city says they live too close to a playground, which has sparked a legal fight over housing, redemption and the definition of a playground.

Felony murder is not your average murder. Juvenile justice advocates call felony murder laws arcane and say they unfairly harm children and young adults. Prosecutors can charge them with felony murder even if they didn't kill anyone or intend to do so. What's required is the intent to commit a felony — like burglary, arson or rape — and that someone dies during the process.

President Trump's depiction of urban life in America is often grim, and the tension between the president and big city mayors is often filled with name-calling and lawsuits. For many mayors who end up in the president's crosshairs, it's a balancing act as they try to determine how to ward off criticism, as well as Trump administration policies they think may be harmful, while not jeopardizing federal funds earmarked for city projects.

"Water, water everywhere." That line from poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge could be the mantra for rain-weary residents across the country. Some regions have seen record amounts of rain since early spring. The Mississippi River and tributaries spent months above flood stage, while all of the Great Lakes are nearly at or above historic highs.

Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit, says data show that the Great Lakes have been on the rise for several years, especially in recent months.

In Kentucky, running away from home or constantly skipping school could get a kid locked up in a juvenile hall for days. Those acts, called status offenses, aren't serious crimes, but for years Kentucky and other states treated them as though they were.

That first brush with the juvenile justice system can often lead to more trouble if authorities focus on punishment, not the underlying reasons for the bad behavior.

But there's growing evidence that the tough approach doesn't work. Kentucky has joined many other states that are trying something different.

For many in Latino and Black neighborhoods, trust in the Chicago Police Department simply doesn't exist. Years of policies detailed in a blistering Department of Justice report explains why.

Many hope the formal events on Friday, Mar. 1, will help restore, or in some cases establish, a sense of trust in communities that have long felt neglected or abused.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The recent shooting deaths of two black men by police have reignited protests about police use of force. In both cases, the men had guns and police wrongly mistook them for suspects.

On Thanksgiving night, a white police officer fatally shot 21-year-old Emantic Bradford Jr. at a mall in Hoover, Ala., a Birmingham suburb. Bradford and others were running from a shooting that left two people injured. Some witnesses said during the pandemonium that followed, some of those running away pulled out their guns for their own protection. Police later said Bradford was not an assailant.

Jury selection begins Wednesday in the murder trial for Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke. The officer, who is white, is accused of killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who is black, as he walked down the middle of a city street holding a knife.

The case has come to embody many of the political and racial tensions that grip the city, and the massive distrust between communities of color and police. In fact, one protest chant has become a mantra in the case: "Sixteen shots and a cover-up."

Aretha Franklin returned to her hometown church today.

The Queen of Soul died on August 16 from pancreatic cancer. For the past few days, fans gathered to pay their respects at Detroit's Charles H. Wright's Museum of African-American History. But today, long lines gathered outside New Bethel Baptist Church where Franklin's late father was the pastor for many years and where she sang in the choir. Franklin, dressed in a pink dress and gold studded heels, lay in repose in the church sanctuary.

Despite a dip in shootings and murders for the year, Chicago suffered one of its bloodiest weekends in recent history last weekend. Police say 33 shootings occurred between Friday and Sunday nights, fueled mostly by gang violence. The incidents left a dozen people dead and dozens wounded. Now, the city's mayor and police superintendent say the city's residents who live in troubled areas of the city should do more to help stop the bloodshed.

The violence occurred between 6 p.m. Friday and 11:59 p.m. Sunday night. Nearly 70 people including several children were wounded.

There are slightly more than 2 million people incarcerated in the United States — that's nearly equal to the entire population of Houston. Among those prisoners, thousands serve time in solitary confinement, isolated in small often windowless cells for 22 to 24 hours a day. Some remain isolated for weeks, months or even years.

"You're shut off from the world and you wait," says Olay Silva, a 41-year-old inmate serving time in Bismarck, N.D.'s maximum-security prison. Silva spent six months in solitary after he was involved in a stabbing. "You just sit there and wait."

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Danica Patrick is one of the biggest names in motor sports, one of the most successful women in the history of American racing, and tomorrow, her last race is one of the world's most famous - the Indy 500. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

All over America today, students staged walkouts to protest school shootings. Let's hear now from Chicago where students rallied against the wider epidemic of gun violence in their city. NPR's Cheryl Corley has this report.

No one knows how many people wrongfully convicted of crimes are in prison, but last year 139 of them were exonerated. That's a drop from 2016, when there were 171 such cases.

The numbers released today by the National Registry of Exonerations shows that Texas still led the nation with 23 exonerees last year followed by Illinois (21), Michigan (14) and New York (13).

A fatal police shooting in Kansas late last month focused attention again on how so-called swatting — prank 911 calls designed to get SWAT teams to deploy — puts lives at risk and burdens police departments.

There are more than 7,000 911 centers in the U.S. and, according to the National Emergency Number Association, they receive about 600,000 calls a day. Authorities don't track swatting calls nationally, though the FBI has been monitoring the practice of those types of fake calls for about a decade.

In Chicago, an odd mix of brazen action by detainees in jail and declining budgets is keeping public defenders from talking to their clients in the lockup areas behind county courtrooms.

Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli says this will continue until authorities can find a way to stop some of the men in custody from exposing themselves to female attorneys.

If you've ever called 911 to report an emergency, thank the Johnson Crime Commission. Establishing a national emergency number was just one of more than 200 recommendations the Commission offered up in a landmark 1967 report "for a safer and more just society."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The design for the Obama Presidential Center was unveiled Wednesday at an event attended by former President Obama and Michelle Obama.

The Center, slated to be completed in 2021, will be located in the Jackson Park neighborhood of Chicago's South side and it will include three buildings — a museum, forum and library that surround a public plaza.

A century ago, it was one of the biggest names in retail. Now, even Sears officials say its future could be in doubt — though they say they have plans to make sure the retail icon survives.

Nancy Koehn with the Harvard Business School says that in its early days, Sears Roebuck and Co. was like Amazon is today — a retailer of great disruption.

For Sears, it meant a path-breaking strategy of offering all sorts of merchandise in catalogs and building department stores in remote places with ample parking.

Pages