What To Know Today
NEW from THE TRACE: Chicago expands violence reduction committee’s membership, increases transparency. Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Violence Prevention Planning Committee has added new members, and, starting with today’s meeting, will no longer operate behind closed doors. Agenda and attendance records shared with The Trace show that since March, Lightfoot’s office has expanded the committee from 60 to more than 100 organizations. The expansion includes more community-based and Latino groups. “That’s a good thing, [and] should’ve happened from the beginning,” said Lance Williams, a professor at Northeastern Illinois University who was upset that community groups were left off of the original committee. “I’m cautiously optimistic and just hoping that it’s not like a dog and pony show to not appear to be non-transparent,” he tells Lakeidra Chavis in a follow-up to her original report.
A Chicago high school notably marked by shootings closes its doors. The South Side’s Harper High School hosted Michelle Obama in 2012 after “This American Life” reported on the toll gun violence had taken on its students. Amid the trying history and declining enrollment, the city announced in 2018 that the school would close. Last week, it shut down permanently after the final class of 19 students graduated, far below past class sizes in the hundreds. WBEZ spoke to students and community members about the school’s painful legacy — and their anger at city officials for letting Harper High go under. “It is almost like we ran a race and did our very best just to be told it wasn’t good enough,” said a former dean.
Feds say they broke up white supremacist cell in the latest sign of domestic radicalization. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on a 33-year-old San Diego plumber and 28-year old ex-Marine and Georgia sheriff’s deputy who, according to prosecutors, discussed stealing explosives, obtaining silencers, and instigating racial violence and civil strife. They were both arrested last year and brought up on illegal weapons charges, something prosecutors often pursue in domestic terrorism cases. The extremism problem for military, law enforcement: Experts have long warned about the issue, and the Defense Department has prioritized addressing the problem within the military’s ranks. A study by the Program on Extremism at George Washington University found that current and former armed service members made up a greater share of the hundreds arrested for the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol than the general population. Related: Prosecutors in Boston are investigating the fatal shooting of two Black city residents — a longtime state trooper and an Air Force veteran — as a hate crime after police say they found evidence of the suspect’s white supremacist beliefs.
An impassioned plea for the merits of a voluntary do-not-sell list for guns. In an op-ed for The Roanoke Times, Bryan Barks — who works for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence — wrote about her own history of bipolar disorder and suicidality to advocate for a new Virginia law that allows people to place themselves on a do-not-sell-to list. “If we can help people survive temporary suicidal crises, we are ultimately saving lives,” she writes. Virginia’s policy, which goes into effect next month, is a modified version of the nation’s first such law in Washington State, both spearheaded by University of Alabama professor Fredrick Vars.
14 — the number of school shootings since March, when many districts returned to in-person classes. That’s the most in that period since at least 1999, though the three killed and eight injured was fewer than the 33 people who died in the same timeframe in 2018. [The Washington Post]