Stories by Evan Garcia

Canceling Student Loan Debt an Undue Burden, Critics Say

As of April 2020, more than $1.7 trillion in student loan debt is owed by Americans, a figure that grows six times faster than the U.S. economy. (WTTW News)

Americans owe more than $1.7 trillion in student loan debt. Now, President Joe Biden is facing new calls to cancel $50,000 or more of loan debt per student. But critics say it would put an undue burden on Americans who never went to college.

Who Stormed the US Capitol? New Report Digs Into Demographics of Those Arrested

Pro-Trump supporters breach security gates at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (WTTW News via CNN)

A new analysis from the University of Chicago looked at the demographics of the 377 individuals arrested for the Jan. 6 attack. The study’s author said he had expected to discover something about the economic conditions of the rioters but was surprised that the data told a very different story.

Bill Awaiting Pritzker’s Signature Declares Violence a Public Health Crisis

(WTTW News)

It’s been a violent start to 2021 in Chicago, which has recorded 131 homicides in the first three months of the year. Now, a measure sitting on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk declares violence a public health crisis and takes aim at racial inequities in the state’s health care system.

Illinois’ Law Protecting Biometric Privacy Could Be Changed

Illinois’ law regulating the collection of biometrics – or physical measurements like fingerprints – is one of the strictest in the nation but could be amended through a current bill in the state Legislature. (WTTW News)

A New York Times tech columnist calls it the “best law you’ve never heard of.” She is speaking of Illinois’ biometrics privacy act, which essentially gives residents protections against companies that want to gather biometric info like face scans and fingerprints. But now, several bills in the Illinois General Assembly aim to strip away some of those protections.

Fishing with a Fire Extinguisher? We Check Out Powerlining in Chicago

Florin Deleanu powerline fishes at Montrose Harbor in Chicago on March 12, 2021. (WTTW News)

This time of year at Montrose Harbor, you’ll see people lining the lakefront with fire extinguishers — but they’re not putting out flames, they’re fishing. Powerlining is a unique fishing style with local roots.

Viral Tweet Stokes NCAA Tournament Gender Gap Accusations

University of Oregon player Sedona Prince is shining light on the inequalities between weight-room facilities for the men’s teams competing in Indianapolis and the women’s teams competing in San Antonio. (WTTW News via @sedonaprince_)

College basketball’s most important competition is in full swing. But a tweet by University of Oregon player Sedona Prince is shining light on the inequalities between weight-room facilities for the men’s and women’s teams. Deadspin senior writer and editor Julie DiCaro offers her perspective.

CPS Considers Alternatives to School Resource Officers

Youth activists organized a peaceful march to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s home on Aug. 13, 2020 to demand the removal of resource officers from Chicago Public Schools. (Matt Masterson / WTTW News)

While several Chicago Public Schools have removed police officers from their buildings, 55 schools still have what are called “school resource officers.” On Wednesday, the school district and five community organizations laid out recommendations for those schools to pursue a more holistic approach to safety.

What You Need to Know About Real ID Before You Travel

All Americans flying domestically will need a federally accepted form of ID – that means a Real ID or a passport is required to travel by October 2021. (WTTW News)

The Real ID deadline has been set for Oct. 1. Here’s what you need to know if you’d like to fly domestically.

Ghost Kitchen Thrives During Pandemic But Disturbs Some North Side Neighbors

An employee of Dai Yee’s Asian Kitchen cooks noodles in a wok on Mar. 2, 2021 at CloudKitchens. Dai Yee’s is one of 10 restaurants renting a kitchen from the ghost kitchen located in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood. (WTTW News)

A ghost kitchen on Chicago’s North Side is renting out kitchen space to multiple restaurants for delivery-only orders, but the traffic-heavy business model is agitating the ward’s alderman and some neighbors.

March Madness: Illinois and Loyola Punch Their Tickets to the Big Dance

Loyola Ramblers fans cheer on the team at in Rogers Park bar Bruno’s on Thursday, March 15, 2018. (WTTW News)

Get your brackets ready because March Madness, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, kicks off Thursday and two Illinois universities are among the 68 teams competing.

The Digital Art Making Millions: What Are NFTs?

(Photo by Windows on Unsplash)

In the art world and beyond, NFTs – or non-fungible tokens – are all the rage right now. But what are they? Law professor Donna Redel explains.

Study Shows Surge in Anti-Asian Hate Crimes in Some US Cities

(WTTW News)

A new report says anti-Asian hate crimes in 16 of America’s largest cities increased by 149% in 2020 compared to the previous year. We hear about local efforts to combat intolerance.

‘Great Lake Jumper’ Going Strong After 260-Plus Daily Dives for Chicago Music Venues

Dan O’Conor at Fullerton Beach on Feb. 26, 2021. (WTTW News)

For months, Dan O’Conor has shocked his senses by leaping into Lake Michigan — every day. What was prompted last June by a hangover is now an opportunity for the Lincoln Square resident to help the city’s music scene. We meet up at Fullerton Beach to see him in action.

Archdiocese of Chicago to Release Names of Religious Order Priests Accused of Abuse

The Archbishop Quigley Center in Chicago. (WTTW News)

The Archdiocese of Chicago said Wednesday it plans to publicly list the names of “credibly accused” priests belonging to religious orders after questions over the archdiocese’s transparency.

Livestreaming With 2 Owls: Forest Preserve’s Programming Goes Virtual During COVID-19

Cook County Forest Preserves naturalist Ryan DePauw holds a great horned owl, the largest owl found in the region, at the River Trail Nature Center on Feb. 18, 2021. (WTTW News)

Animals that wouldn’t be able to survive on their own in the wild are getting the care they need, and are helping educate the public, at five forest preserve nature centers around Cook County. But during COVID-19, people aren’t allowed to go inside these centers, so the animals and their caretakers reach out virtually.

Considered Food Desert, North Chicago Gets Its 1st Grocery Store in 20 Years

(WTTW News)

The lack of affordable and nutritious food in North Chicago has made the city a food desert, but soon it'll get its first full-service grocery store in 20 years.

Newly Appointed State Sen. Mike Simmons on Goals for Illinois’ 7th District

State Sen. Mike Simmons appears on “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021. (WTTW News)

Neighbors in Rogers Park, Edgewater, Uptown and Ravenswood have a new state senator representing them in Springfield, and he says he plans to tackle the health and economic disparities his constituents experience.

New Film Highlights Chicago Efforts to End South Africa’s Apartheid

A new film airing this weekend on WTTW draws parallels between the fight against apartheid in South Africa and injustice in Chicago.

Skokie Synagogue Serving Deaf Community Struggles to Stay Open

Rabbi Douglas Goldhamer, who started Skokie’s Bene Shalom congregation in 1972, at his Evanston home on Feb. 5, 2021. (WTTW News)

For nearly half a century, a place of worship in Skokie has exclusively served deaf Jewish congregants. But now, that special synagogue is fighting to stay afloat. We visit Bene Shalom to learn more.

Head of McCormick Place Hopes for a 2021 Convention Rebound

McCormick Place (WTTW News)

Chicago’s convention industry took a huge financial hit when COVID-19 shut down the city. McCormick Place, North America’s largest convention center, is looking to rebound this summer with dozens of events scheduled through the end of the year.

‘Ida B. the Queen’: New Book Examines Legacy of Trailblazing Journalist

We kick off the first installment of our Black Voices Book Club series with a new biography on a Black woman whose legend looms large in Chicago. And it’s written by Michelle Duster, her great-granddaughter. 

Speechwriters Discuss Biden’s Inaugural Address, Call for Unity

President Joe Biden delivers his first speech as commander in chief on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (WTTW News via CNN)

President Joe Biden calls for unity while warning against violent dissent in his inaugural address. Political speechwriters Mari Maseng Will and Jason DeSanto share their thoughts.

Rep. Kinzinger on Capitol Rioting: ‘A Sick, Disgusting Day in American Democracy’

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger appears on “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (WTTW News)

“It’s a sick, disgusting day in American democracy and we’ll get through it and hopefully be stronger somehow for it,” U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger said of Wednesday’s storming of the Capitol by pro-Trump rioters.

Bears Fight for a Playoff Spot in Regular Season Finale Against Packers

Former Bears offensive lineman James “Big Cat” Williams previews the Bears matchup Sunday against the Packers.

NASA Spacecraft Designed by Illinois Engineer Will Study Solar Flares

A rendering of the GLIDE spacecraft by Lara Waldrop.

A spacecraft designed by an Illinois researcher and professor will orbit Earth’s outermost atmospheric layer to better understand powerful bursts of radiation from the sun, also known as solar flares. Lara Waldrop tells us more.

Northwestern’s Hispanic Organ Transplant Program Dispels Organ Donor Myths

(David Mark / Pixabay)

Success rates for organ transplantation have grown through the years, but disparities impacting communities of color remain. A Northwestern Medicine transplant surgeon is providing care curated specifically for the Latino community.