Jason Van Dyke gets locked up. JB and Julianna clean up. Rahm begins to pack up. The Black Panther racks up and Meghan and Prince Harry hook up. The Crusader highlights the biggest headlines of 2018 that rocked Chicago, the nation and the world.
By Erick Johnson
It was the year where Officer Jason Van Dyke was convicted of murder, J.B. Pritzker won the governor’s race, the Queen of Soul took her final rest, “The Black Panther” made history at theaters, and Black aldermen took thousands from an embattled mayor who won’t seek a third term in office.
For Blacks in Chicago and around the world, 2018 was a historic year. In Chicago, it was a year that ended with several cliffhangers, including the dramatic conviction of Van Dyke and the trial of three officers accused of trying to cover up the murder of teenager Laquan McDonald. All four officers will learn their fate in 2019. Van Dyke will find out how long he will spend time behind bars. Officers Joseph Walsh, David Marsh and Thomas Gaffney will find out if they’ll join him in the slammer.
There were other big stories in 2018. The Crusader looks back at many of them.
Foxx rejects calls for special prosecutor in Quintonio LeGrier case
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx rejected calls from Black political and religious leaders who wanted her to appoint a special prosecutor to handle the case involving Chicago Police Officer Robert Rialmo, who in 2016, fatally shot 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier and 55-year-old Bettie Jones on the West Side.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson backed Rialmo, saying he believed the officer feared for his life. A Cook County judge rejected a $1 million jury award to the father of LeGrier after the jury said they believed Rialmo feared for his life during the confrontation. Rialmo was given his job back on the force. On June 9, the city’s lawyers reached a $16 million settlement with the family of Jones.
Vallas ousted at Chicago State University
Paul Vallas, the chief administrative officer at Chicago State University (CSU) who was appointed to the position after a campaign that angered Black leaders, was ousted by the school’s Board of Trustees.
Vallas was accused of using the predominantly Black school to boost his run for mayor in the 2019 elections.
Vallas started his term in April 2017 after then-Governor Bruce Rauner-backed trustees propelled him forward as chief administrative officer, a newly-created position whose goal was to turn the school’s enrollment and academic problems around. Black political leaders criticized Rauner, saying Vallas had no experience at a university and wasn’t qualified for the role.
FBI audiotape threatens Pritzker’s run for governor
An FBI audiotape captured gubernatorial Democratic candidate Jay “J.B.” Pritzker making unflattering statements against Black leaders. He called former State Senator Emil Jones “crass,” laughed at Reverend Jeremiah Wright and suggested that Secretary of State Jesse White was a “safe” Black and said it would be a nightmare if former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. became a U.S. Senator.
The comments threatened to severely damage Pritzker’s chances of winning the Black vote in the Democratic primary. He went on an “Apology Tour” with running mate Julianna Stratton and gave many of Chicago’s Black aldermen thousands of dollars in campaign donations in exchange for their unswerving support. Whites supported Pritzker and a handful of Black leaders supported Pritzker through the crisis.
CPD Commander Bauer killed in the line of duty
Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer died after he was shot while trying to apprehend a suspect at the Thompson Center in the Loop. Mourners at his funeral at Nativity of Our Lord Church filled its pews and two overflow rooms. More than 400 police agencies were represented, including the Minneapolis and Milwaukee police departments, as well as departments throughout the Chicago area.
Chicago’s Olympic medalist Davis loses chance to carry the American flag
Chicago’s Shani Davis, America’s most decorated gold medal-champion in the Winter Olympics, lost the opportunity to carry the American flag in the opening ceremonies after another athlete with just a bronze medal won the honor on a coin toss, the Crusader learned. America’s first Black speed skater, who has four medals, learned that he lost the opportunity while watching the evening news in South Korea.
E2 Nightclub Tragedy marks 15th anniversary with no monument
The 15th anniversary of the E2 Nightclub stampede that left 21 people dead and 50 injured came with no monument or memorial to honor the victims. Plans for a permanent memorial on Lake Shore Drive are slowly moving along.
Black superhero movie, ‘The Black Panther,’ makes history
The ground-breaking Black superhero action movie, “The Black Panther,” debuted in movie theaters around the country. The movie, featuring a predominantly Black cast, drew thousands of Black moviegoers to sold-out theaters in Chicago as the film shattered records, generating a record $1.3 billion worldwide, making it the third-highest grossing superhot film of all time.
The film earned three Golden Globe nominations, including “Best Picture” and was named one of the 10 best films of 2018 by the National Board of Review as well as one of the 10 best films of 2018 by the American Film Institute.
Pritzker, Preckwinkle win big in Democratic primary
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay “J.B.” Pritzker and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle dominated the Illinois primaries in dramatic fashion on March 20 on an election day filled with stunning upsets and tight races.
Pritzker crushed his opponents, winning 45 percent of the vote in a race that was declared less than two hours after the polls closed. Preckwinkle crushed challenger Robert “Bob” Fioretti, winning 61 percent of the vote. Preckwinkle’s big victory vindicated here after her controversial soda tax was repealed months earlier following protests and outrage from retailers who were concerned the tax would hurt sales and lead to layoffs.
One month after her big victory, Preckwinkle was voted chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party, cementing her rise to political power and reinforcing her nickname, “Boss.”
Houston Forward Times’ publisher suffers massive aneurysm
Houston Forward Times’ Publisher Karen Carter Richards on April 1 suffered a massive aneurysm that ruptured her aorta. After experiencing chest pains at 3 a.m. Sunday morning, her son took her to the hospital emergency room. Richards underwent an eight-hour Acute Type A Aortic Dissection surgery. Richards recovered and won the Publisher of the Year award at the annual National Newspaper Publishers Association convention in June.
Chicago joins nation marking 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination
Busloads of Blacks from Chicago on April 4, 2018 made the trip to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. was among dozens of national leaders who spoke on the balcony where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was fatally shot on April 4, 1968. Blacks were among thousands of visitors who packed hotels in Memphis to attend a day-long ceremony honoring the slain Civil Rights leader. The Crusader published a special tribute to mark the historic milestone in Black history.
Phillip Jackson calls out Starbucks after arrests in Philadelphia
The Black Star Project founder, Phillip Jackson, held a press conference at the organization’s headquarters in Bronzeville on April 17, where he called for changes at Starbucks after two Black men were arrested at the coffee chain in Philadelphia, igniting accusations of racial profiling and renewing concerns about the long-standing inequity of prominent businesses in underserved Black neighborhoods. Jackson led a boycott of 10 Starbucks in Chicago on April 18.
Laundryworld reopens after being forced to close after 50 years
The popular Woodlawn laundromat that was forced to close in 2017 after 50 years, reopened in April. A bankruptcy judge approved asettlement agreement that gave owner Lloyd Hughes back his business.
Lloyd Hughes, owner of Laundryworld Laundromat, filed Chapter 11 on Wednesday, he has owned the business for 50 years. | Leslie Adkins/For the Sun-TimesLaundryworld is located at 6331 S. King Drive.
In October 2017, Judge Benjamin Goldgar forced Hughes to sell his business after he paid $354 to repair a machine without informing his creditor, Inland Bank.
Mayor appoints Foreman to head Chicago Police Board
On May 8, Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Ghian Foreman to serve as president of the Chicago Police Board, ushering in a new era of leadership as the city’s civilian oversight agency for police accountability. Foreman replaced Lori Lightfoot, who stepped down weeks earlier to run for mayor of Chicago.
Meghan Markle marries Prince Harry
On May 19 at Windsor Castle in England, Meghan Markle. An African American, married Prince Harry in a historic royal wedding that included a Black choir and Michael Curry, a Black Bishop from Chicago. Over 700 million people across the globe watched as Markle walked the aisle in a simple Givenchy wedding gown.
Hairston absent as city approves Obama Center and Library
Alderman Leslie Hairston (5th) was absent as the Chicago City Council approved the Obama Center and Library on May 23. The center will be on 19 acres in Jackson Park. The plans passed by a 47-1 vote. The approval came after dozens of protesters turned up at City Hall hoping to convince the Council to reject the proposal. The controversial facility will impact the predominantly Black neighborhoods of Woodlawn, and Hairston’s ward in South Shore. One of Hairston’s staff members told the Crusader that she was out of town and unable to attend the meeting. Alderman Roderick Sawyer (6th) read a statement from Hairston at the Council meeting.
DuSable Museum rattled after seven members quit board
During Memorial Day weekend, the DuSable Museum of African American History saw seven abrupt resignations from its influential Board of Trustees, including Chance the Rapper and his father, Ken Bennett.
Crusader chief leads group of investors in historic purchase of Chicago Reader
The Chicago Sun-Times announced that the Chicago Reader, an iconic 47-year-old award-winning publication was sold to a group led by Dorothy Leavell, publisher of the Chicago Crusader and Gary Crusader newspapers. The sale price was not disclosed. The stunning announcement was made at the Rainbow PUSH National Convention Women’s Luncheon on June 15 at the Hyatt Regency, before an estimated 1,000 guests, who gave a standing ovation after then Sun-Time’ CEO Edwin Eisendrath broke the news.
Chicago Urban League president forced out in big shake-up
A big shake-up struck the venerable Chicago Urban League after the stunning announcement that president and CEO, Shari Runner, would step down as part of a major restructuring effort of the 102-year-old organization. Chief of staff, Danielle Parker, also left the organization. The Board appointed business affairs strategist, Barbara Lumpkin, to serve as interim CEO as the Board launches a search to fill the position.
Crusader wins three Merit Awards for Excellence in Journalism
The Chicago Crusader won three Merit Awards for excellence in journalism at the National Newspaper Publishers Association annual convention held June 26–30 in Norfolk, VA.
The Crusader’s Entertainment Contributing Editor Elaine Bowen captured 2nd place for Best Entertainment Section. Crusader Design Production Artists Karen Ysaguirre and Marissa Bullock won 2nd place for Best Layout and Design/Tabloid and Broadsheet. The Crusader’s Yaounde Olu captured 3rd place for Best Editorial Cartoon Award.
Pfleger leads massive protest shutting down Dan Ryan Expressway
Some 3,000 people marched with prominent pastor, Fr. Michael Pfleger of Saint Sabina Church. Tired of the gun violence and murders in Chicago’s poor neighborhoods, Pfleger defied state officers who threatened to arrest protesters if the march went on. Mayor Rahm Emanuel reluctantly allowed Pfleger to hold the protest, against the wishes of Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
Johnson draws criticism after fatal shooting, clash in South Shore
Chicago police fatally shot 27-year-old Harith Augustus in South Shore July 14, setting off a new wave of anger in the Black community. A violent clash between protesters and police renewed calls for police reform and criticisms of Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson by Black leaders.
According to body-cam video released by police, Augustus pulled out his firearm owner’s identification (FOID) card, when another officer came from behind and tried to grab him. The video shows Augustus fleeing before he was shot several times in the middle of the street. He died at nearby Jackson Park Hospital hours later.
City votes to rename Congress Parkway after Ida B. Wells-Barnett
The Chicago City Council on July 25 voted to rename Congress Parkway after Ida B. Wells-Barnett, capping an intense campaign to honor the journalist and Civil Rights activist. Congress Parkway from the Eisenhower Expressway to Columbus Drive in Grant Park was renamed after Wells-Barnett.
The original proposal called on leaders to rename Balbo Drive after Wells-Barnett, but that angered Chicago’s Italian community who wanted the street to stay named after Italy’s Italo Balbo, who reportedly had ties to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, dies at 76
Franklin died in her condominium in downtown Detroit. Longtime friend Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. and Stevie Wonder were among dozens of dignitaries who visited Franklin in her final hours.
The Crusader published a special tribute to Franklin. She was crowned “Queen of Soul” in 1964 by WVON’s Pervis Spann at the Regal Theater in Bronzeville. Franklin had many ties to Chicago during her illustrious recording career.
Her viewing was held at Detroit’s Charles Wright Museum of African American History, where thousands viewed her body in a gold-plated casket. On August 31, Franklin’s private, eight-hour funeral was held at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple, where many of Black America’s biggest stars and dignitaries gave a Franklin a homegoing service fit for a queen. She was interred in a mausoleum at Detroit’s famed Woodlawn Cemetery, the final resting place of her father, brother, nephew and two sisters.
Emanuel announces he won’t seek third term
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced his decision on the first day of the trial of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who was charged with first-degree murder for shooting teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014. Emanuel lost a year-long battle to keep a dash-cam video of the shooting from being released to the public. Activists accused the mayor of covering up the shooting while he campaigned hard in the Black community to win a second term in the city’s first-ever mayoral run-off.
Consent decree finalized for Chicago Police Department
Following a scathing U.S. Justice Department report in 2017, the agreement was drafted by the Illinois Attorney General’s office, the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department. Black Lives Matter activists were allowed to provide input on the consent decree.
The new agreement calls for police officers to report when they point their gun at someone. The supervisor must also be notified and review the incident to make sure policy was followed. An independent monitor will review those incidents and make recommendations. The agreement requires CPD to train officers on when it is appropriate to point a firearm at a person.
‘Bought?’ Crusader investigation says Black aldermen took thousands from mayor weeks before approving $5M settlement to family of Laquan McDonald
The report in the October 6 edition reported that eight Black aldermen took a total of $271,025 in campaign donations from the mayor to help him win the Black vote as he kept quiet the video of the shooting of Laquan McDonald. In the following weeks, the Crusader published additional stories that reported on additional donations taken from the mayor for a grand total of $433,777.
Weeks later, another Crusader investigation reported that six additional Black aldermen twice voted to approve the $5 million settlement before it was given to the family of McDonald. According to official transcripts, most of the Black aldermen said nothing and did not ask questions before they approved the amount in an effort to save the city money.
Jason Van Dyke convicted of second-degree murder in historic verdict
The Chicago police officer was immediately jailed after a 12-member jury convicted him less than five hours after they began deliberations following a month-long trial that repeatedly showed him shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times. Van Dyke was also convicted of 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. He was acquitted on the charge of misconduct.
Van Dyke was the first police officer who was convicted of murder for an on-duty shooting.
Van Dyke was scheduled to be sentenced October 31, but on that day, his attorneys filed a motion requesting that Judge Vincent Gaughan throw out Van Dyke’s conviction, thus giving him a new trial. Gaughan denied the request and set a sentencing date for January 19.
24 years later, woman signs second affidavit to help clear Roosevelt Myles
Octavius Morris, the state’s main eyewitness, said Myles, a man who has spent 27 years in jail, did not fatally shoot her friend, Shaharain “Tony” Brandon in Chicago on November 16, 1992.
For the second time, Morris implicated Chicago Detective Anthony Wojcik, who she said visited her mother’s house six times to pressure her to change her confession. Myles’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, appealed to Judge Dennis Porter for an evidentiary hearing, which Myles waited 18 years for after he was granted one from an appellate court. Judge Dennis will decide on January 8 whether to obey an appellate court order and give Myles a hearing.
Target announces plan to close stores in Chatham, Morgan Park
The retailer drew criticism from Black leaders, who grew concerned that the closing of two stores will have a devastating impact in Black neighborhoods. The news came as Target reaffirmed plans to open two stores on the North Side. Black leaders and shoppers said both South Side stores were always busy, but Target officials said they were “underperforming” stores. A Crusader investigation reported that out of 52 Target executives, only one is Black. Despite meetings with Target, the retailer held firm to its plans to close both stores in February.
Pritzker, Stratton oust Rauner in midterm elections
In a landslide victory, Pritzker grabbed 60 percent of the vote, forcing Governor Bruce Rauner to concede just 43 minutes after the polls closed at 7 p.m.
Kwame Raoul easily defeated Republican challenger, Erika Harold, by winning 60 percent of the vote. Secretary of State Jesse White was elected to a fifth term by grabbing 60 percent of the vote. Susana Mendoza was re-elected as Illinois comptroller.
Nationally, Democrats took back the U.S. House from the Republicans. Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum lost his historic bid to become the state’s first Black governor to Ron DeSantis.
In Georgia, Stacy Abrams fell short in a narrow race to become her state’s first Black governor. In Maryland, Ben Jealous lost his bid to become that state’s first Black governor.
Protests erupt after Midlothian police shoot Black security guard in Robbins
A Midlothian police officer on November 11 shot and killed Jemel Roberson, a security guard who was working at Manny’s Blue Room in Robbins. Roberson’s family said that Roberson was wearing a hat that had “security” printed on it. The lawyer for the family also said witnesses told him several people called out to the officer that Roberson was a security guard.
Jemel RobersonA preliminary report by the Illinois State Police, citing witnesses, said that the Midlothian police officer gave “multiple verbal commands” to Roberson to drop his gun and get on the ground before he fatally shot him.
On Monday, November 12, Roberson’s family filed a federal lawsuit, saying the shooting was “unprovoked” and “unjustified.” A GoFundMe campaign has raised over $311,000 for Roberson’s family. Rapper Kanye West donated $150,000.
Black doctor, Chicago police office among dead after Mercy Hospital shooting
On November 19, Dr. Tamara O’Neal, Dayna Less and Chicago Police Officer Samuel Jimenez were all killed in a shooting at Mercy Hospital in Bronzeville. The killer, Juan Lopez, also died but it still remains unclear if he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The shooting happened just three days before the Thanksgiving holiday. O’Neal, 38, was shot in the parking lot at Mercy Hospital & Medical Center by Lopez, her former fiancé, who wanted O’Neal to return the engagement ring. After shooting O’Neal, Lopez ran inside the hospital and shot Less, a pharmacist, and Chicago Police Officer Samuel Jimenez. O’Neal, Less and Jimenez later died from their injuries.
11 of 21 record Chicago mayoral candidates officially file to run
The Black candidates include Attorney Amara Enyia, State Representative LaShawn Ford, businessman Neal Sales-Griffin, former Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot, activist Ja’mal Green and activist Roger L. Washington. The list also includes Conrien Hykes Clark and Sandra Mallory—two Black female candidates who had not publicly announced their mayoral campaigns before they filed their petitions.
The mayoral and aldermanic elections will take place February 26, 2019.
Three officers in Laquan McDonald case stand trial for alleged misconduct
The trial which started November 27, ended December 7 after weeks of testimony from fellow police officers and witnesses. Prosecutors argued Officers Joseph Walsh, David March and Thomas Gaffney conspired to cover up the shooting of Laquan McDonald by Officer Jason Van Dyke.
In court, prosecutors said the officers’ police reports were exactly the same, despite them filing from three different locations, with the same words and descriptions that contradicted the dash- cam video of the shooting. Cook County Associate Judge Domenica Stephenson will give her verdict on January 15.
Chicago historian Timuel Black celebrates 100th birthday
On December 8-9, Chicago celebrated the 100th birthday of Timuel D. Black, Jr. with events in Chicago at the Logan Center on the University of Chicago campus and at the South Shore Cultural Center.
Black was born in Birmingham, AL on December 7, 1918. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Black enrolled at Roosevelt University where he received his Bachelor’s degree and later earned a Master’s degree from the University of Chicago. He has run for public office several times and spent his life furthering the cause of social justice. He is a pioneer in the independent Black political movement and assisted, advised and supported political leaders including, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Harold Washington and Barack Obama
Two Chicago police officers killed by train while pursuing suspect
The number of officers killed in the line of duty this year grew to four when two police officers were killed by a South Shore Line train on December 17.
Thirty-seven-year-old Eduardo Marmolejo and 31-year-old Conrad Gary responded to a ShotSpotter alert near 101st and Dauphin, where they gave chase to a suspect. At about 6:30 p.m., while they were investigating on or near the train tracks near 103rd and Cottage Grove, they were struck by a passing train and killed instantly, CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson said.