Stories by Evan Garcia

Firsthand Gun Violence: Helping Communities in Times of Need

A scene from the WTTW “Firsthand: Coronavirus” documentary series.

As Chicago experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases, data shows the city’s 2020 homicide rate outpacing 2019. We speak with Jamal Cole, founder of My Block, My Hood, My City, as part of our series.

CPS CEO Jackson: Remote Learning Not Working for Some Students

Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson appears on “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (WTTW News)

Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson talks about the school district’s recently announced plan for some students to return to the classroom. 

After School’s Music Program Cut, Teacher Offers Free Lessons

BandWith founder Anna Palomino, left, instructs 10-year-old Arviyanna Bell during a ukulele lesson at Marillac St. Vincent Family Services in East Garfield Park on Oct. 15, 2020. (WTTW News)
When her music education program was cut from a charter school in East Garfield Park, a local teacher refused to quit on the kids in this underserved community. We check out the nonprofit BandWith to learn more.

Chicago Portrait: Tamale Guy

Claudio Velez makes pork tamales with his sister Maria in Velez’s new restaurant Tamale Guy Chicago on Aug. 13, 2020. (Evan Garcia / WTTW News)

An update to our profile of Claudio Velez, the longtime food vendor affectionately known as the “Tamale Guy” who contracted COVID-19 just weeks after opening his new restaurant. Velez returned home earlier this month.

Central Camera Rises From the Ashes After Looting, Fire

Firefighters battle the blaze inside Central Camera, a 121-year-old Chicago business, on May 30, 2020. (Courtesy Dominic Gwinn)

For a 121-year-old camera store in Chicago, everything changed on the night of May 30. How the third-generation owner of Central Camera is rebuilding the business after its destruction.

‘Black People Eats’ Showcases Black-Owned Restaurants in Chicago and Beyond

percent loss in revenue during the pandemic. Food blogger Jeremy Joyce films Krissy Harper, owner of Cleo’s Southern Cuisine, for his social media account Black People Eats on June 27, 2020. (Evan Garcia / WTTW News)

Restaurants have not had it easy the past few months. But in Chicago, a food blogger is doing his best to elevate Black-owned restaurants through social media. We meet up with Jeremy Joyce, the founder of Black People Eats.

The Chicago Reporter Alumni Question Publication’s Hiatus. Owners Call It ‘Manufactured Hysteria’

A screenshot shows the homepage of The Chicago Reporter website on Oct. 7, 2020. (WTTW News)

For 48 years, the Chicago Reporter has investigated issues of race and poverty. But last month, the publication was abruptly put on hiatus by the faith-based nonprofit that owns it. Now, dozens of former staffers are demanding answers.

Trump’s Rhetoric Fuels Fear of Election Night Violence

An American flag and Trump campaign flag fly at a Proud Boys rally. (WTTW News via CNN)

In an op-ed, DePaul University history professor Tom Mockaitis says the president’s failure last week to recognize and condemn violent, far-right groups like the Proud Boys could encourage clashes on Nov. 3.

Trump Pleads Ignorance to White Nationalist Hate Group, Drawing Backlash

“I don’t know who the Proud Boys are,” Trump said on Wednesday. We discuss white supremacy and hate groups in America with the Anti-Defamation League and a local reporter. 

Aldermen Discuss COVID-19’s Devastating Impact on Chicago Budget

(WTTW News)

Chicago’s looking at a lot of red ink due to coronavirus-related shutdowns. What kinds of cuts might the city soon see to keep its financials afloat? We speak with four people who will likely have a say in those decisions.

Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan: ‘We Gotta Do Away with the Death Penalty’

Former Gov. George Ryan expounds on the death penalty in a new book with co-author Maurice Possley titled, “Until I Could Be Sure: How I stopped the Death Penalty in Illinois.”

Durbin Warns of Obamacare’s Fate Ahead of Supreme Court Battle

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin speaks with “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. (WTTW News)

The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – just weeks before the U.S. presidential election – has thrown national politics into a tailspin. Sen. Dick Durbin is bracing for impact.

The Week in Review: State Budget Cuts Loom

(Ken Teegardin / Flickr)

Big state budget cuts are on the horizon. The Big Ten is back, but youth sports remain on hold. In Springfield, the Madigan inquiry moves forward. And the White Sox are going to the playoffs.

Artist Builds Effigy Mounds to Honor Indigenous People in Cook County

Artist Santiago X discusses his work Serpent Mound, a group of effigy mounds in Schiller Woods reminiscent of the earthwork built by Indigenous people, on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. (Evan Garcia / WTTW News)

Indigenous artist Santiago X showcased Serpent Mound, a group of effigy mounds in a Cook County forest preserve, as part of the county’s Racial Equity Week on Tuesday.

A Big Day for Chicago Sports Fans Who May Have Needed It

(WTTW News)

Amid uncertainty in Chicago and across the nation, a ray of hope: Chicago’s baseball teams are in first place, and the city’s beloved Bears pulled off a miracle comeback. Can professional sports actually be a tonic for tough times?

Windy City Times to End Print Edition, Publish Online Only

A screenshot shows the homepage of the Windy City Times website on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020.

After 35 years, the Windy City Times will end its print edition and move forward as an online-only publication in October. We discuss the news with the publication’s co-founder and publisher, Tracy Baim.

Teachers Union Files Grievance Over CPS Remote Learning Plan

(ArtisticOperations / Pixabay)

School’s back in session next week – albeit virtually. Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Davis-Gates shares her thoughts. 

COVID-19 Shines Spotlight on Digital Divide

(ArtisticOperations / Pixabay)

The coronavirus pandemic has made internet access essential and many of Chicago's Black and Brown communities hit hardest by COVID-19 also lack internet access and devices.

Speechwriters Analyze GOP Talking Points at Republican Convention

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence appear together at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. (WTTW News)

President Donald Trump will accept his party’s nomination for president at the Republican National Convention on Thursday. We take a close look at GOP talking points with two accomplished speechwriters.

Emmett Till’s Cousin: ‘65 Years Later and Nothing Really Has Changed’

Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley.

The painful legacy of Emmett Till seems fresh amid this era of civil unrest. We reflect on his death with Ollie Gordon, Till’s cousin, and Chris Benson, who co-authored an autobiography of Mamie Till-Mobley, Till’s mother.

Chicago Youth Organize Open Mic in South Side Garden

Tyrell Jerry, a student at the Chicago High School for the Arts, performs at the first open mic held at a South Side community garden on Aug. 5, 2020. (Evan Garcia / WTTW News)

A community garden and farmers market in Auburn Gresham is now the venue of an open mic hosted for young Chicago artists. We go for a look to learn more.

Chicago-Area Transit Agency Bosses on COVID-19’s Impact on Transportation

A passenger wearing a face mask boards a CTA bus in Chicago. (WTTW News)

Ridership across CTA trains and buses, Metra commuter trains and Pace buses are down about 70% compared to this time last year. With that dramatic decline in ridership comes lower revenue and strains on operational funding.

Chicago Portrait: Dr. Everywoman

Dr. Wendy Goodall McDonald works in her downtown Chicago medical office on July 27, 2020. (Evan Garcia / WTTW News)

During the day, Dr. Wendy Goodall McDonald sees patients at her obstetric and gynecological practice in Chicago. But after work, she entertains and educates the public through song parodies.

Meet the Chicago South Side Pastor Sampled by Kanye West

Pastor T. L Barrett sings as Dwayne Barrett, the drummer of his choir, adjusts his microphone at the pastor’s South Side Pentecostal church on Sunday, July 12, 2020. (Evan Garcia / WTTW News)

Pastor T. L. Barrett wrote and recorded soul-infused gospel music in the 1970s with his youth choir. Forty years later, his music is reaching new generations — via some star-studded names.

Racism in Health Care: Providers Address a Public Health Crisis

(Photo by Artur Tumasjan on Unsplash)

The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black and Brown communities has made recent headlines, but racial disparities within health care have been studied and reported on for years.

How Long Should Illinois Extend its Eviction Moratorium?

(Samuel A. Love / Flickr)

The pandemic and economic shutdown have made it difficult for many people across the state to pay their rent, which is why Gov. J.B. Pritkzer extended a moratorium on evictions through the end of July. Is that enough time?

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