COVID-19 Across Chicago: Elgin


The west suburban city is preparing to ramp up its reopening as the state is expected to move into phase four on Friday.  

At the same time, Elgin is facing unrest of its own over a police-involved shooting in 2018. 

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Interactive: More from our series, COVID-19 Across Chicago.

Early Wednesday evening, a few dozen protesters demonstrated outside City Hall. They’re demanding the city take action on the fatal police shooting of Decynthia Clements by Police Lt. Chris Jensen after a standoff on I-90. 

Jensen, who is White, was reinstated last year after multiple investigations, including from an outside security firm that found no basis for criminal charges. 

But protesters believe the killing of Clements, a Black woman, was unjustified and are asking for Jensen’s removal. 

“[The city] didn’t ask a group of us civilians, citizens, to go out there and do our research and homework to find a group we’re comfortable with, to go in there and ask the questions that we want to ask,” said Marcus Bradley of Elgin in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter. “We don’t know what goes on behind those closed doors.” 

  • A protest outside of Elgin City Hall on Wednesday, June 24, 2020. (WTTW News)

    A protest outside of Elgin City Hall on Wednesday, June 24, 2020. (WTTW News)

  • A protest outside of Elgin City Hall on Wednesday, June 24, 2020. (WTTW News)

    A protest outside of Elgin City Hall on Wednesday, June 24, 2020. (WTTW News)

  • A protest outside of Elgin City Hall on Wednesday, June 24, 2020. (WTTW News)

    A protest outside of Elgin City Hall on Wednesday, June 24, 2020. (WTTW News)

Elgin is a blue-collar, diverse city of about 115,000 residents – half of which are African American and Latino. 

And it’s home to midsize manufacturing, nine retail malls and thousands of small businesses. 

One of the largest employers is the Grand Victoria Casino – the last casino in the state to get a license before the latest round of gaming expansion. 

It has been fully closed since mid-March, and, like other casinos, will be allowed to open at some point in phase four, but state leaders and the Illinois Gaming Board are still determining when and what the regulations will be. 

The casino provides about $12 million in tax revenue each year to the city and hundreds of jobs, all of them sorely missed right now. 

“So the impact of not having them here, not having them come out to lunch, buy lunch in the downtown area, or throughout the area … the folks who are coming from all over the state to be on the boat, that’s a significant impact to the community,” said Carol Gieske of the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce. 

But the Chamber notes that Elgin is a diversified economy – with many essential businesses allowed to stay open during the shutdown. 

Meanwhile, the city has been hit hard by COVID-19, with more than 2,000 confirmed cases in the three zip codes the city sits in. 

The Greater Elgin Family Care Center has been conducting testing since late April, and reports that the positivity rate among Latinos is a whopping 85%, as opposed to 15% for non-Latinos. 

State Sen. Cristina Castro represents Elgin in Springfield, and is a member of the Illinois Senate Latino Caucus. 

“A lot of those folks are working, many have to provide for their families,” she said. “And many of them, especially the ones who are undocumented, didn’t qualify under the federal CARES Act.” 

Video: Watch our full interview with state Sen. Cristina Castro.

Even amid those numbers, Elgin Mayor David Kaptain says the city is ready to move into the next phase of reopening. 

“We’ve been following the state’s guidelines, we’ve stuck to them, and we’re going to continue to do that,” Kaptain said. “We’re a minority city, over 50% minority, we are one fo the fastest growing senior populations so our population is very at risk … my job is to make sure that people are safe and stay well, so I’m very cautious about how we’re doing opening.” 

Video: Watch our full interview with Elgin Mayor David Kaptain.

Follow us on Twitter: @paschutz / @rquinnmyers


Community Reporting Series

“Chicago Tonight” is expanding its community reporting. We’re hitting the streets to speak with your neighbors, local businesses, agencies and leaders about COVID-19, the economy, racial justice, education and more. See where we’ve been and what we’ve learned by using the map below. Or select a community using the drop-down menu. Points in red represent our series COVID-19 Across Chicago; blue marks our series “Chicago Tonight” in Your Neighborhood.


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