Stories by Amanda Vinicky

‘Black Lives Matter’ Wine? Teddy Bears? Trademark Law Shows You Can’t Always ‘Just Do It’

Protesters gather in Chicago on Saturday, May 30, 2020 following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. There are now several pending attempts to trademark the phrase “Black Lives Matter.” (Hugo Balta / WTTW News)

Black Lives Matter is a burgeoning cultural and political movement — and it appears that people are ready to cash in on it.

Illinois to Begin Screening Newborns for Rare Genetic Disease

(Free-Photos / Pixabay)

By the time parents notice anything out of the ordinary – their baby is “floppy” or isn’t able to roll – it’s too late to reverse the damage done by spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA.

‘Reclaim Pride’ March Honors Roots of LGBTQ Movement, Sets Goals for Future

(nancydowd / Pixabay)

Chicago’s 51st annual Pride Parade was canceled, but LBGTQ activists and allies took over the streets of Boystown on Sunday for a community-driven march organizers described as a “protest, not a party.”

Landlords Sue Pritzker Over Illinois’ Ban on Evictions

(Stephen M. Scott / Flickr)

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is again facing legal action for allegedly exceeding his executive authority in reaction to the coronavirus crisis. 

As Lakefront Trail Reopens, Edgewater Eyes City’s Next Phase

A cyclist rides along the lakefront trail on its official reopening day, Monday, June 22, 2020. (WTTW News)

Chicago’s lakefront trail officially reopened Monday after the city closed it down in March in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We visit the lakefront and see how the Edgewater community is gearing up for phase four.

Durbin: Illinois Needs Federal Assistance, Not ‘Pension Bailout’

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Sept. 30, 2019.

Illinois’ ability to withstand financial hits was anemic even before the global pandemic hit, but the novel coronavirus has led the state to craft a novel budget strategy. We talk COVID-19, unemployment and police reform with Illinois’ senior U.S. senator.

North Side March Draws Attention to Racism in Chicago’s Music Scene

A crowd gathers on Damen Avenue in Wicker Park on Sunday, June 21, 2020. (Amanda Vinicky / WTTW News)

Chicago rapper Matt Muse helped lead a march Sunday from Lincoln Park to Wicker Park to bring attention to to the role of Black musicians and creators in the city’s entertainment and music spaces.

Illinois GOP Sues Gov. Pritzker Over Ban on Large Gatherings

Protesters in Springfield call for Gov. J.B. Pritzker to reopen the state. (WTTW News)

Various businesses, religious organizations and even legislators have sued Gov. J.B. Pritzker over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. But the Illinois Republican Party says its lawsuit is different. 

Chicago’s Next Steps in Reforming the Police

Chicago police officers monitor a crowd of protesters following the death of George Floyd. (WTTW News)

The conditions under which Chicago police officers can use force will be reviewed by a new community working group, but even before its work begins in earnest the group itself is under a degree of scrutiny.

Pomp and Circumstance in a Pandemic and Time of Civil Unrest

Oprah Winfrey delivers the keynote address to Chicago high school graduates during a virtual celebration Sunday, June 14, 2020. (Chicago Mayor’s Office / Facebook)

During a virtual ceremony on Sunday, Oprah Winfrey told Chicago’s graduating high school seniors they are being called to “reckon with our country’s past and determine a more equitable future for black and brown people.”

So You Need to Renew Your Driver’s License …

(WTTW News)

Even before the pandemic, Illinois Secretary of State offices in Chicago saw long lines as people sought Real IDs ahead of a fall deadline. That deadline has been pushed back. Here’s what else you need to know.

Another 627 Cases of COVID-19 Reported in Illinois

New statewide totals: 132,543 cases, 6,308 deaths

Visitors to Navy Pier take advantage of blue skies Friday, June 12, 2020. The popular tourist attraction reopened, with restrictions, on Wednesday, June 10. (WTTW News)

Illinois’ statewide positivity rate for the coronavirus fell to 3% this weekend – down from last Saturday’s rate of 5.5%.

Should Police Officers Be Licensed?

(WTTW News)

The killing of George Floyd has reinvigorated calls for police reform. While some push for defunding the police, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has another idea.

Navy Pier Partially Reopens, But Bars, Lakefront Still Closed

After weeks of being closed, Navy Pier prepares on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 for its partial reopening. (WTTW News)

One of the state’s top tourist attractions has been closed to visitors throughout the coronavirus pandemic. That changes Wednesday, even as other popular Chicago destinations remain closed — including the lakefront.

Illinois Wades into Permitting Pools to Open as New COVID-19 Cases Appear to Slow

New statewide totals: 128,415 cases, 5,924 deaths

(David Mark / Pixabay)

Illinois officials are dipping their toes into the idea of allowing swimming as the state begins its second week in phase three of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s reopening plan.

‘Help Can’t Wait’: Pritzker Urges Insurers to Help Looted Businesses Rebuild

Crews start boarding up the 3 Smokin Sisters Tobacco Shop on 71st Street in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood. Shop owners emptied the store of inventory following looting on Sunday, May 31, 2020. (@paschutz / Twitter)

Insurance companies “must do everything in their power” to help retailers, restaurants and other businesses that were ransacked by looters get back on their feet, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday.

As National Conversation Returns to Police Brutality, Black Lawmakers Demand Meaningful Change

A protester faces off against police in Chicago on Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Hugo Balta / WTTW News)

Black elected officials are demanding transformational change in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the attention it has brought to systemic racism — and they’re demanding the state provide money to back it up.

Chicago Churches Allowed to Open Their Doors, Cautiously, as City Eases into Phase 3

In May, Metro Praise International Church in Belmont Cragin defied the stay-at-home order that closed churches statewide. (WTTW News)

Worshippers were able to legally meet together Sunday in Chicago churches and other religious institutions — albeit with limitations in place — for the first time since orders meant to limit the spread of the coronavirus took effect.

New Virus Cases Slow, But Officials Fear Spike Following Protests

New statewide totals: 127,757 cases, 5,904 deaths

Protesters and police officers wearing riot gear have a standoff near Daley Plaza on Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Evan Garcia / WTTW News)

Illinois’ total number of coronavirus cases reached 127,757 on Sunday as the state again reported fewer than 1,000 new cases over the past 24 hours. But doctors and officials fear that number could spike in the near future.

Mayor Lightfoot Lifts Chicago Curfew, Restores Access to Loop

(Photo by Brad Knight on Unsplash)

Chicagoans are once again free to roam the city at night. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has announced via social media that she was lifting her curfew order “effective immediately.”

Mayor Denounces Vigilantism as Reports of Racial Tension, Harassment Resurface

Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks at a livestreamed press briefing on Thursday, June 4, 2020. (Chicago Mayor’s Office / Facebook)

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she supports neighbors being vigilant but that she won’t tolerate people taking up arms. “We’ve seen that end with tragic results across the country,” she said.

Chicago Restaurants, Retail Stores Reopen Amid Challenges

We get a taste of what some restaurant industry players experienced Wednesday as Chicago moved info phase three of its reopening plan.

Aurora Businesses Starting to Reopen Hit by Demonstration Damage

A scene from downtown Aurora on Monday, June 1, 2020. (WTTW News)

Businesses in downtown Aurora were just beginning to reopen under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan. Then they were hit by property damage and theft after peaceful protests on Sunday turned destructive. 

Chicago Public Schools Suspends Free Meals Due to Unrest

(WTTW News)

Students who count on Chicago Public Schools for meals will not be able to get food from the district on Monday, due to “the evolving nature of activity across the city.”

‘Fringe Element’ Targets Businesses Throughout Chicago During Weekend Unrest

Protests on Saturday turned violent as some looters smashed store windows and stole merchandise. (Hugo Balta / WTTW News)

Looters pillaged businesses throughout Chicago over the weekend, setting fire to stores, breaking windows and taking off with shoes, clothing, cellphones and liquor.