Stories by Erica Gunderson

Study Questions Accuracy, Utility of ShotSpotter Technology

(WTTW News)

A new study by Northwestern University’s MacArthur Justice Center found that 86% of ShotSpotter alerts resulted in no report of any crime, leading to questions of the gunfire detection system’s value in violence reduction.

Fred Hampton Jr., Akua Njeri on ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’

Fred Hampton Jr. and Akua Njeri speak with Brandis Friedman for “Black Voices.” (WTTW News)

It’s a story many Chicagoans know, but since the Oscar-nominated film “Judas and the Black Messiah” was released, more people are learning about the life and death of Fred Hampton. We talk with his widow and his son. 

La Ultima Palabra: Letty Belmares

Local mom and children’s book author Letty Belmares gives la ultima palabra on what she sees as the value of mothers to society. (courtesy Letty Belmares)

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on everyone, but one group in particular has had an especially heavy lift: mothers, who have taken on the majority of caregiving responsibilities over the last year.

Family Reunification Task Force Gears up to Reunite Migrant Parents and Children

The Biden administration’s Family Reunification Task Force began efforts to reunite more than 1,000 families separated from their children since 2017. (WTTW News)

Four families separated under former President Donald Trump’s immigration policy were this week the first to be reunited by organizations working with the Biden administration’s Family Reunification Task Force.

‘It’s In the Action’: C.T. Vivian Memoir Tells Story of Civil Rights Activist

“It’s in the Action: Memories of a Nonviolent Warrior.”

This month’s Black Voices Book Club selection traces the civil rights trail blazed by Dr. C.T. Vivian. We discuss Vivian’s legacy with Steve Fiffer, the co-author of “It’s in the Action: Memories of a Nonviolent Warrior.”

The Power of Public Art: Murals Proliferate in Tumultuous Times

Many murals were painted in the wake of protests in Chicago over the summer of 2020. (WTTW News)

Themes of justice, pride and community have blossomed in murals along Chicago’s streets and storefronts, creating a constantly evolving and thought-provoking backdrop to a tumultuous year.

Latino Community Again Seeking Answers and Reform After Shooting of Alvarez

Community leaders and family members of victims killed by police and gun violence gather April 29, 2021. (WTTW News)

The fatal shooting of Anthony Alvarez by Chicago police Officer Evan Solano has left many people in Chicago questioning use of force tactics in situations involving police foot chases. But others are standing firm in support of police.

Why Black Representation is Especially Important When it Comes to Charitable Giving

(WTTW News)

After a year that has laid bare persistent inequities in everything from health care outcomes to criminal justice, leaders of philanthropic organizations are reassessing how, and to whom, they are lending their support.

‘Our People’ Clips Spark Son’s Memory of Father on TV

Kim Williams, left, and Jose Williams appear on “Black Voices” via Zoom on April 25, 2021. (WTTW News)

Our trip down memory lane with the WTTW program “Our People” from the late 1960s and early ‘70s brought back memories for one former Chicagoan. Here is his story.

Covering the Chauvin Trial: The Verdict, Reaction and What Comes Next

A group of approximately 100 protesters gathered near the Cloud Gate sculpture in Millennium Park to protest police brutality on April 13, 2021. (WTTW News)

After a three-week trial, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd, a conviction President Joe Biden called “a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America.” We discuss the verdict, the reaction and what comes next with local journalists.

Latino Youth Face a Mental Health Crisis

The community came out to protest, to march, and to mourn in memory of Adam Toledo. (WTTW News)

Health professionals say the fatal shooting of Adam Toledo by police has led to a mental health crisis among Latino youth. We take a look at the resources available to them.

Unique Sweets Helps Youth with Autism Build Skills

Founder Liza Curiel says there is a place for everyone to contribute in the Unique Sweets kitchen. (WTTW News)

According to a Drexel University study, 42% of young adults with autism never worked for pay in their 20s. We meet a Chicago woman has cooked up a way for those young adults to develop crucial social and work skills while contributing their own unique flavors to the business.

La Última Palabra: Rachel Gonzalez

Rachel Gonzalez (WTTW News)

The violinist and bank-teller-turned-software-engineer talks about making career changes during the pandemic. 

Child Welfare Organization Says Race Equity Practice Works

(WTTW News)

Lutheran Child and Family Services says its anti-racism approach has made a big difference in outcomes for the children they serve.

Communities Affected by Police Violence Also Deal with Anger, Grief

At a protest in Logan Square on April 16, 2021, Ana Solano holds a sign reading “Justice 4 Adam!” with a photograph of Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old boy fatally shot by a Chicago police officer in the Little Village neighborhood March 29, 2021. (Evan Garcia / WTTW News)

As the country awaits an outcome in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, the manner in which police operate in Black and Latino communities – in particular, how they use deadly force — remains very much in the spotlight. 

Little Village Mourns Toledo, Calls for Unity and Empathy

A mural near a memorial for Adam Toledo. (WTTW News)

For the past two weeks, Chicago residents have been reacting to the death of 13-year-old Adam Toledo at the hands of a Chicago police officer. Now, video footage of the shooting is raising more questions about the incident. We discuss the March 29 shooting with Little Village community members.

Since 1957, La Criolla Has Brought Latin Flavor to Chicago

Maria and Jose Chaparro took over La Criolla Foods at its original location in the West Loop in 2016. (WTTW News)

When Avelino Maldonado started his spice distribution company in Chicago, the biggest waves of Latino immigrants had yet to arrive. Sixty-four years later, Latinos comprise nearly 30% of the city’s population, and La Criolla’s new owners hope to bring their Latin flavor to another generation of cooks.

Diversity in Development: How Black and Latino Developers Can Change the Map

(WTTW News)

When city leaders and developers discuss new plans for major real estate projects, some groups are often left out of the discussion. What’s being done to bring more Black and Latino developers into the industry. 

The Last Word: Shermann Thomas

Shermann Thomas (WTTW News)

Urban historian Shermann “Dilla” Thomas gives us the last word on how knowing the city’s past can change the energy of its future.

Community Organizers Lead the Charge to Get Residents Vaccinated

(WTTW News)

In neighborhoods like La Villita and Back of the Yards, outreach workers are taking a ground-up approach to registering residents for vaccinations by meeting them in grocery stores and taquerias, and through texts and social media.

La Ultima Palabra: Ana Hernandez

Entrepreneur Ana Hernandez gets La Ultima Palabra on working women and embracing their aspirations. (WTTW News)

Why women should take their ideas and aspirations off the back burner.

Chicago’s Arts Community Sees Wave of New Black Leaders

(WTTW News)

Chicago’s most storied arts institutions have elevated Black leaders to the helm in the last year. We talk with some of them about how the Chicago arts scene is planning its 2021 comeback.

Masa Madre Bakery Blends Cultures, Traditions and Flavors

Tamar Fasja Unikel and Elena Vázquez Felgueres met a decade ago in their native Mexico City while studying fashion design. (WTTW News)

As a global destination for culinary adventure, Mexico City is full of exciting and surprising flavors. Among them is the unique food culture created by its robust community of Mexican Jews, which brings together some of the best food traditions of each community. Now, two Mexico City natives have brought their version of those flavors to Chicago.

Border Surge Complicates Path Forward on Immigration

(WTTW News)

The Biden administration is struggling to manage a new cycle of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border as it looks to Congress to pass sweeping immigration legislation.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones Wants You to Become a ‘Professional Troublemaker’

From jumping out of airplanes to zip-lining through the jungle, Luvvie Ajayi Jones has become an expert at challenging fear — but not all of her daring adventures involve leaving the ground. She tells us about her new book, “Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual.”

Remembering Longtime Chicago Broadcaster Bill Campbell

Bill Campbell appears on “The Week in Review” with Joel Weisman in 1981. (WTTW News)

In this 1981 clip from “The Week in Review,” Bill Campbell, who was then in his third year as editorial director at WLS, talks with host Joel Weisman about his signature on-location editorials and deriving meaning from his work.