Van Dyke Trial Begins with Jury Selection
A judge increased former Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke’s bail by $2,000 Thursday, one day after jury selection process for his first degree murder trial began, according to WGN. Prosecutors in the trial filed a motion last week asking his bail be revoked or increased after the cop – who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times, killing him – gave several media interviews, including a lengthy one with the Chicago Tribune.
The jury selection process began Wednesday with potential jurors being summoned to the Leighton Criminal Court Building to fill out a questionnaire, where about 150 protesters also gathered across the street.
“There were so many people out here today, and we’re going to continue to come out here,” Maria Hernandez from Black Lives Matter Chicago told WGN. “I know we have a voice because the mayor canceled his re-election the day before this trial started because he knew no matter how much funding he had, he would not be able to overcome the reality we are in.”
Community activist William Calloway, whose efforts alongside journalist Brandon Smith were instrumental in getting the video footage of McDonald’s death released, told the Chicago Tribune that demonstrators were “defending justice.”
“It’s been close to four years since the shooting happened. It’s been three years since (Van Dyke) has been charged. And we want justice. It’s time for him to face the music about what he did,” said Calloway.
CTU Votes in New President, Vice President
The Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates voted Wednesday to replace now retired former President Karen Lewis with current Vice President Jesse Sharkey.
“I bleed CTU red, I truly do,” said Sharkey in remarks to delegates emailed by the union.
“It has been the greatest honor of my life to work with Karen as a colleague and a partner in our battle for educational justice for our students and for the rights and dignity of our 27,000 members,” said Sharkey. “I’m honored to formally carry the flag as President of this union, to advance our groundbreaking brand of progressive unionism. Our unity gives us the power to continue to build our larger movement for educational justice, and take back our city from those who seek to serve only the 1%.”
The vote came one day after the union, which has had an extremely contentious relationship with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, took partial credit for his decision to not seek a third term.
“This union takes credit for this mayor’s departure, not by ourselves, but on behalf of every parent that stood by us when we said you couldn’t close 50 schools in black and brown neighborhoods,” Sharkey said in a Monday afternoon press conference.
Taking Sharkey’s place as Vice President will be CTU Political Director Stacy Davis Gates, who taught for 12 years before assuming that role.
“Chicago owes Karen Lewis a debt,” said Gates. “She gave us the courage to fight back and demand respect, equity and justice. We don’t get a fighting union and a community coalition of the willing without her leadership. Our enemies—billionaires like Bruce Rauner who don’t want to pay their fair share and neoliberal charlatans like Rahm Emanuel—want to end our fight for racial, economic, social and educational justice.”
Heartland Cafe Up For Sale
Rogers Park institution the Heartland Cafe is for sale. The Craigslist post listing the iconic vegetarian restaurant and community gathering space for sale was spotted by several Twitter users with keen eyes on Thursday, and first reported by Crain’s and Block Club Chicago.
The post for the 9,600 square foot building that houses The Heartland Cafe, Heartland Studio Theatre, and Red Line Tap says it’s a “once in a lifetime opportunity to own a piece of Rogers Park history.”
“This a rare chance to own a restaurant/bar/theater or redevelopment site in Rogers Park,” the listing states.
Current owner Tom Rosenfeld bought the Heartland from founders Michael James and Katy Hogan in 2012, and the restaurant originally opened in 1976. Heartland has been a hotbed of community and political activism since it’s opening. Former President Barack Obama held a campaign rally at the location in 2004 during his senate campaign. Both former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington and Jesse Jackson Jr. spoke at Heartland early on in their political careers as well. At one point prior to the NATO summit in 2012, Chicago Police conducted at least one undercover operation where six officers were deployed to the cafe to conduct surveillance.
Thom Clark, who runs a radio program that broadcasts out of the cafe, told Block Club it would “be a real loss” if the restaurant moves on. “I am personally concerned to see a community icon potentially shut down, even if it reopens,” said Clark.