Stories by Matt Masterson

Lightfoot: City Will Fine, Shut Down Bars & Restaurants Violating COVID-19 Restrictions

“This is a make or break weekend for you,” the mayor said ahead of holiday weekend

Diners take advantage of expanded outdoor seating along a stretch of Broadway in Chicago on Friday, June 12, 2020. (WTTW News)

Businesses violating health and safety guidelines could face citations up to $10,000 per offense, while those who display “egregious disregard” for those guidelines will be shut down, city officials said Thursday.

Chicago Matching 2016 Homicide Pace Through First Half of 2020

City ended 2016 with most murders in nearly two decades

(WTTW News)

In the first six months of 2020, there have been 329 murders, matching the total recorded in the first half of 2016 – a year that ended with 762 homicides, according to Chicago Police Department data.

Chicago Police, Feds Seek Help to Identify Persons of Interest in 53 Arson Investigations

(Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives)

“Business owners throughout Chicago saw their hopes and dreams go up in flames with these fires,” Police Superintendent David Brown said of dozens of arsons that took place during recent protests in Chicago.

Kim Foxx Declining to Prosecute ‘Minor Offenses’ Stemming From Recent Protests

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx appears on “Chicago Tonight” on March 18, 2020. (WTTW News)

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx on Tuesday issued a new policy instructing prosecutors to dismiss cases involving a handful of misdemeanor charges tied to recent protests, including disorderly conduct and curfew violations. 

City Releases Bodycam Video Showing Ex-Top Cop Eddie Johnson Asleep in Car

Body camera footage released Monday shows Chicago’s former Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, right, asleep behind the wheel of his vehicle on Oct. 17, 2019. The incident led to his eventual termination by Mayor Lori Lightfoot. (City of Chicago)

The video and documents come more than eight months after the encounter between police officers and the former superintendent, who was found asleep behind the wheel of his SUV after a night of drinking. 

Top Cop David Brown Again Decries Lack of Consequences for Chicago Gun Offenders

CPD to deploy 1,200 additional officers each day of Fourth of July weekend

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown speaks about weekend violence at a press conference Monday, June 29, 2020. (WTTW News via Chicago Police Department)

“As a dad ... I struggle to make sense of the reckless gun violence that continues to take the lives of our young people throughout the city,” Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said after 14 people were killed over the weekend.

No Bond For Chicago Man Accused of Gunning Down 2 High Schoolers

Laroy Battle (Chicago Police Department)

“He is a clear and present danger to all of society and all members of the community,” Judge Susana Ortiz said before denying bond Friday for 19-year-old Laroy Battle.

Judge Tosses Second Lawsuit Brought on Behalf of Murdered Scholar Yingying Zhang

A memorial stone engraved with Yingying Zhang’s name in both English and Chinese on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in June 2019, two years after her disappearance. (Photo by Mark Van Moer) Inset, top: Yingying Zhang (Courtesy University of Illinois Police Department). Bottom: Brendt Christensen (Courtesy Macon County Sheriff’s Department).

A Champaign County judge dismissed the lawsuit against a pair of University of Illinois social workers, each of whom interviewed Brendt Christensen weeks before he kidnapped Zhang and killed her inside his Champaign apartment in June 2017.

100,000 CPS Students to Get Free Internet Through $50M ‘Chicago Connected’ Program

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announces the launch of "Chicago Connected" on Thursday at Evergreen Middle School. (City of Chicago)

With the possibility of remote learning returning this fall, Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday announced the launch of a $50 million program that will provide free high-speed internet to students over the next four years.

CPS Board Rejects Motion to Terminate Contract With Police Department

Demonstrators march in Chicago on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 to show their support for removing police officers from schools. (WTTW News)

Chicago Public Schools will continue to utilize school resource officers in some of its high schools, after a motion to terminate the district’s $33 million contract with the Chicago Police Department was voted down Wednesday.

Lane Tech Taking First Steps To Replace Controversial Mascot

Lane Tech High School (Matt Masterson / Chicago Tonight)

“As a school community, we champion diversity, inclusion, and understanding, and it's essential that we live up to these ideals in all possible ways," Lane Tech Principal Brian Tennison said in a letter to families Tuesday.

Lawsuit: Chicago Detainees Being Denied Access to Phone Calls, Attorneys

(Thomas Hawk / Flickr)

The Cook County Public Defender’s Office and several activist groups are suing the city of Chicago, accusing the police department of “disappearing” detainees by preventing them from making phone calls after their arrest.

CPS Board to Vote on Removing Police Officers From Schools

(WTTW News)

Chicago Public Schools could become the latest major school district to pull police officers from its school buildings amid nationwide calls for police reform in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.

Report: Chicago Police Continues to Lag Behind in Consent Decree Compliance

(WTTW News)

“This is a critical time in history and for law enforcement,” Independent Monitor Maggie Hickey said in a statement. “It is my hope that the current momentum around police accountability will inspire the City and the CPD to accelerate its efforts.”

CPS to Lay Off Nearly 300 Teachers as Part of Annual Adjustments

District says it plans to fill 1,900 positions for next school year

(WTTW News)

CPS on Thursday announced it had laid off 703 employees, including 286 teachers, as part of its annual staffing adjustments, which the district said are caused by declining enrollment, changing student demographics and programmatic changes.

Illinois Supreme Court Rejects FOP Request to Destroy Old Officer Complaint Records

(WTTW News)

The case stems from a yearslong battle between the city of Chicago and the Fraternal Order of Police, which has argued that its collective bargaining agreement requires complaint files be destroyed after five years.

No Bond for Chicago Man Accused of Firing Shots at Car Full of Police, Wounding 1

Steven McGee (Chicago Police Department)

Steven McGee, a reputed gang member, allegedly opened fire on a car full of uniformed Chicago police officers, striking one in the leg, as they attempted to arrest him in Bronzeville on Monday for a previous aggravated assault.

Chicago Aldermen Call for Police to Be Pulled From CPS Schools

Caleb Reed, a student at Mather High School on the city’s North Side, speaks about his experiences with school resources officers at an event Tuesday, June 16, 2020. (WTTW News)

Public school districts in Minneapolis, Denver and Seattle have recently suspended or outright terminated their contracts with local police departments. Could Chicago Public Schools be next?

Lightfoot Pushing for Legislation to License Police After Cops Caught Napping

A screenshot from Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s “State of the City” address on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. (Chicago Mayor’s Office / Facebook)

“It is time, actually, it is way past time, for this change in our state,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday, adding that she'd already directed her legal team to begin drafting legislation to be presented in Springfield.

Chicago Journalist Sues City, Says He Was Pepper-Sprayed While Covering Protest

Chicago Police officers and protesters clash during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Chicago, Saturday, May 30, 2020. Floyd died after being taken into custody and restrained by Minneapolis police on Memorial Day in Minnesota. (AP Photo / Nam Y. Huh)

Jonathan Ballew, a credentialed journalist who has worked with multiple local media outlets, filed a federal lawsuit Thursday claiming he was “assaulted with a chemical agent” during the May 30 protests in River North.

Chicago Announces Full Lineup for Citywide Virtual Graduation Ceremony

(Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash)

Oprah. Cubs. White Sox. Blackhawks. “Hamilton.” These are a few of the teams and celebrities who will help send off the class of 2020 during Chicago’s citywide virtual graduation this weekend.

‘I Want It To End On a High Note’: CPS Valedictorian Reflects on ‘Weird’ Year

Crane High School senior Chasity Kasir earned full ride to University of Chicago

Chasity Kasir, far right, and her Health Occupations Students of America teammates had the opportunity to see a live open heart surgery. (Photo courtesy Chasity Kasir)

The daughter of Indonesian immigrants, Chasity Kasir said the traits of hard work and respect were instilled in her from a young age. This weekend, she’ll graduate from Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School at the top of her class.

Chicago Officer Who Flipped Off Protesters Relieved of Police Powers

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

A Chicago police officer who was caught on camera last week extending his middle fingers toward peaceful protesters has been relieved of his police powers, days after Mayor Lori Lightfoot called for him to be fired.

Cook County Sheriff Resumes In-Person Visits For Jail Detainees

(WTTW News)

As the number of COVID-19 cases decline at the Cook County Jail, Sheriff Tom Dart announced Monday he would resume allowing in-person family visits for detainees for the first time in months.

Police: Total Crime Down in May, but Homicides, Shootings on the Rise in 2020

(WTTW News)

The Chicago Police Department’s latest crime figures show a 20% reduction in overall crime in May 2020 compared to last year. But year-to-date totals show an increase in shootings (30%) and homicides (25%) compared with the same time frame last year.