Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.
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A violent hazing ritual that led to misdemeanor charges against four Plainfield Central football players had been a tradition for years at the far southwest suburban high school, according to a lawsuit filed today by two former freshman players who claim they were sodomized with a broomstick in the locker room in 2019.
Some 15 to 20 varsity players chanted “Code Blue” as two freshman players were forcibly held down and assaulted in October 2019, according to the lawsuit, which identifies the victims as Child Doe A and B.
“They stuck their head in the sand and allowed young men to be sodomized by varsity football players with broomsticks in a disgusting and reprehensible high school football ritual known as ‘Code Blue,'” attorney Antonio Romanucci said during an online news conference.
“When will the educational community finally wake up and stop this practice of hazing, bullying and sexual assault for the sake of bonding and a winning football record during the school year?”
Four students at Plainfield Central in 2019 were charged with misdemeanors in connection with the incidents. The victims and their assailants all were minors at the time of the assault, according to lawyers for the victims. The status of those cases was not immediately known. The lawsuit states that the four varsity players involved in the incident were handed three-day suspensions and no other punishment.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, claims coaches at the school were aware of the practice of sexually assaulting freshman players, and even recognized the phrase “Code Blue” as the name of the ritual.
More news you need
The city announced today the projects chosen to develop four vacant or underused properties on busy streets in New City, Bronzeville, North Lawndale and South Chicago. The proposals were so strong that the city has started conversations with runner-up applicants about other projects, city officials said.
Jesse Ruiz will leave his post as deputy governor for education in Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration, the governor announced today. Pritzker credited Ruiz with making “an enormous difference for our entire state’s education systems.”
While construction on the Obama Presidential Center moves forward in Jackson Park, another ambitious idea once pushed in tandem with that project appears stuck in hibernation. David Roeder has more on the status of Tiger Woods-backed plan to join two South Side golf courses into a premier 18-hole attraction designed to lure PGA events and elite players.
A new Black-owned coffee shop taking up residency in Washington Park wants to tackle the whitewashing of the coffee industry. Monday Coffee Company owners Felton Kizer and Amanda Harth spoke to our Cheyanne M. Daniels about the business and their mission beyond selling lattes.
A bright one
From outdoors columnist Dale Bowman: When a book like “Nature in Chicagoland” comes along, I look for three things: does it hit the high points, does it get the hidden gems and do I discover something new.
Andrew Morkes accomplishes that in “Nature in Chicagoland: More Than 120 Fantastic Nature Destinations That You Must Visit,” which captures the extent of options around the Chicago area. Morkes, a Chicagoan who founded College & Career Press LLC, compiled and wrote the book for both those experienced in nature destinations and “newbies.”
He succeeds in covering that spectrum with 306 pages and more than 210 photos. I knew many of his 120, but also learned some must-visit stops.
A chance to see bison on the range is part of the appeal of Nachusa Grasslands, one treasure mentioned in “Nature in Chicagoland.” Dale Bowman
Using Morkes’ designations, the book gets what I consider the high points of each basic area: Chicago (Riverwalk, Lake Michigan); Chicagoland North (Illinois Beach State Park); Chicagoland Northwest, West and Beyond (Mississippi Palisades State Park); Chicagoland South and Beyond (Starved Rock SP); Indiana (Indiana Dunes); Michigan (Isle Royale National Park, Pictured Rocks National Park) and Wisconsin (Kettle Moraine State Forest). I quibble a bit on Wisconsin. The complex of parks, trails and launches around Madison and Lake Geneva deserve spots.
Even for those of us experienced at the big-name sites, he offers good tips on visiting.
From the press box
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On Friday, we asked you: What is your favorite mural in the city? Tell us why. Here’s what some of you said…
“Great Wall of Chicago on 87th and Vincennes. I love that a part of it was to bring awareness to mental health. Not to mention it just looks dope and the colors really pop.” — Terri Dean
“O-Block King Von.” — Kamron Elmore
“Muddy Waters on State Street downtown because he was a great musician who influenced quite a few people such as the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton.” — Erin Eileen
“Muddy Waters on State and Washington. Simply because it’s Muddy.” — Jimmy Davey
“This mural by Arts Alive Chicago at 4700 W Montrose Ave is my favorite because it reminds me of the ultimate sacrifices that police officers make to keep us safe. I am ever grateful to our men and women in blue. #ellafrench” — Jacquelyn Marie
“The fact that Cook County has so many talented artists who’ve given their art to us all to enjoy is wonderful. Since I live in Skokie – this mural always makes me smile: 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie. It was painted in 2017 by the artist who goes by Sick Fisher, is on the side of the Skokie Theatre.” — Carmie Daugird Callobre
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