U.S. Politics

1 Shocking Statistic Exposes Chicago’s Racial Divide

1 Shocking Statistic Exposes Chicago's Racial Divide

Image Credit: Getty Images


What do 94% of the people who donated to embattled Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s re-election campaign in 2015 have in common?

They’re all white.

Read more: Bernie Sanders Just Took the Boldest Stance of Any Candidate on the Laquan McDonald Case

Amid controversies over cuts to public services and education in disproportionately poor and minority neighborhoods, and months before suspicions over the mayor’s role in suppressing inquiries into the police killing of 17-year-old black teenager Laquan McDonald became a major controversy, Emanuel was financing his $24.4 million campaign almost exclusively via white people, a new study finds.

1 Shocking Statistic Exposes Chicago's Racial Divide

About 94% of donors to Emanuel’s campaign were white, even though white people comprise just 39% of Chicago’s total population, according to the new report, from progressive think tank Demos. Emanuel’s donors almost entirely (84%) gave large contributions of $1,000 or more. A staggering 80% of his donors had an annual income of at least $100,000 or more, despite just 15% of Chicagoans making six figures.

“What’s so extraordinary about the Chicago donor class is for such a diverse city to have such a white donor class,” study author and Demos policy analyst Sean McElwee said in an email. “Though data are still preliminary, Emanuel’s donor class does appear whiter than the other mayors of diverse cities I’ve examined.”

Additionally, just 36% of Emanuel’s donors actually lived in the city of Chicago.

His progressive competitor, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, recruited a considerably more diverse donor pool — but one that managed to raise just $7.1 million.

1 Shocking Statistic Exposes Chicago's Racial Divide

1 Shocking Statistic Exposes Chicago's Racial Divide

According to McElwee, the data suggests Emanuel’s key bankrollers share an entirely different set of priorities than the majority of Chicago voters. As mayor, Emanuel has presided over major budget cuts to public services.

“There are deep divides between the donor class and the general public,” McElwee wrote in the report. “The current path Chicago is following, with cuts to mental health services, infrastructure and public schools, is responsive to the preferences of the donor class, not average Chicagoans.” He added,

Chicago has closed 49 schools, predominantly in black neighborhoods. In addition, the city has closed six of the city’s 12 mental health clinics, which was supposed to pull in $2.2 million in savings, though the city then paid $500,000 to private facilities in order to meet demand. A recent wave of spending cuts hit Chicago State University, the only state college that predominantly serves black students, particularly hard. The college may have to close, or dramatically reduce staff and classes offered.

Following Emanuel’s successful re-election campaign, the McDonald shooting controversy saw the mayor’s popularity rating dip to a record 27% low, with four out of 10 Chicagoans saying he should resign, according to the Chicago Tribune. McElwee said, 

While we don’t have data about donor attitudes towards police, we do know that whites tend to be more supportive of punitive punishments, more supportive of police and blind to the realities of discrimination. Thus, the overwhelmingly white donor class could certainly bias criminal justice policy. It’s worth wondering how Rahm might have responded to the McDonald shooting if his donor class was 94 percent black.

“So far in the 2016 election cycle, we’ve had conversations about race and we’ve had conversations about money in politics, but those conversations have rarely been linked,” he added. “I hope that this report will lead to a conversation about how money in politics prevents action on racial justice.”

By Tom McKay

U.S. Politics

How Activists Mobilized To Shut Down Trump In Chicago

Simon Nyi (left) with Alyssa Greenberg (right) | CREDIT: USED WITH PERMISSION


On Friday night, so many protesters descended upon a Donald Trump rally at the University of Illinois-Chicago that the Republican presidential front-runner canceled his appearance, citing security concerns. Violence broke out inside and outside the rally, with Trump quickly criticizing the “thugs who shut down our First Amendment rights.” Conservative commentators avidly defendedTrump, saying that it was a shame that protesters — also making use of their First Amendment right — had shut him down.

Thousands of protesters from all over the city, led by black, Latino, and Muslim activists, spent days organizing the protest, motivated by Trump’s incendiary remarks about communities of color and religious minorities. Organizations “tapped into existing networks of pro-Bernie Sanders and Black Lives Matter activists,” as NBC News explained. Representatives of student groups from the Black Student Union and Fearless and Undocumented were present at a meeting and decided to protest outside, while a Facebook event page promoted the protest to get people inside. The page included links to getting tickets to Trump’s rally.

One undocumented student started a petition on MoveOn.org calling on the school to cancel the event, claiming that Trump’s visit was a “standards and safety issue” at the UIC campus. MoveOn.org chipped in money for banners as well after the student’s petition garnered 50,000 signatures. As more than 1,000 students gathered for the march, Trump’s team cancelled his appearance.

Alyssa Greenberg, a graduate student at the University of Illinois-Chicago, and her partner, Simon Nyi, were ready to peacefully protest Trump’s appearance. Nyi first found out about the protest when he received a Facebook event invite from a friend in the Latino activist community — one of many online organizing efforts that brought thousands of people together Friday night. He wanted to participate “to reject the hate racism and xenophobia that Trump was spewing,” and he especially appreciated that the event’s organizers “didn’t want the protesters to sink to that level.”

Nyi and Greenberg left before the clash between Trump supporters and protesters ultimately turned violent but they told ThinkProgress that the organizing efforts had emphasized peaceful protest.

Initially, there was disagreement over tactics. Many UIC professors, students, and community members initially demanded the school cancel the rally.

“The university said it’s their policy to rent out the space to any political candidate. But Trump is not just any political candidate,” Nyi said. “It’s an issue of safety for the students. He has a history of inciting violence against people of color. His supporters are putting people in real physical danger. Last night, we saw a lot of those predictions come true.”

When the school decided to go forward with the event, some suggested protesters register for rally tickets en masse but not show up, so that Trump would be speaking to a near-empty stadium. Then organizers suggested those who wanted to enter the event could do so, understanding the risk.

Around 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon, all of the groups that made up the protest coalition met in the quad on the University of Illinois Chicago’s campus. There, local activist leaders read poems and gave speeches on a makeshift stage, before the hundreds of people gathered set off to march to the stadium where Trump was scheduled to speak.

“As protests go, it was a remarkably well organized and punctual one,” Nyi said. “You usually can’t get a group that large all on the same page at the same time.”

While Nyi and Greenberg joined the crowd chanting and holding protest signs outside the event, dozens of other protesters made their way inside with signs hidden under their clothes, planning to disrupt Trump. But before this could happen, Trump preemptively canceled the event. At first, he claimed Chicago Police had advised him to do so, but police later said this wasn’t true.

Greenberg said she wanted to allow the black and Latino organizers spearheading the protest to be the ones to go inside the rally, while she and other allies showed their support outside. She has also been working with her union, the UIC Graduate Employees Organization, to pressure the university to put the money they earned from the event toward a very anti-Trump cause.

“The student fees we pay go to the mortgage of the UIC pavilion where the rally was,” she explained. “So we’re calling for the university to be transparent about how much money they made, and to put that money toward scholarships for undocumented students.”

In all, they were proud of Chicago. “This city has a lot of problems,” Nyi said. “We’re one of the most economically unequal cities in the country, and one of most racially segregated. But I was so impressed at people coming out in force for this.”

And as Tia Oso, national coordinator for Black Alliance for Just Immigration, which works with Black Lives Matter activists, told the LA Times, it’s just the beginning.

“He’s viewed as this legitimate candidate and as people begin to see he could possibly lead this country, they’re going to push back against him and what he’s throwing out there,” Oso said. “You can’t go around saying you’re going to ban all Muslims and not think people are not going to be upset. You can’t bad mouth Mexicans and think everyone will just be all fine with it.”


U.S. Politics



CBS Chicago

Thousands Of Protesters Swarm Chicago… ‘Pushing And Shoving’ Inside Rally… Thundering Cheers… ‘We Stumped Trump!’… ‘I’ve Never Seen Anything Like This’… 5 Arrests… 2 Officers Injured… Trumps Claims He Is A ‘Unifier’… ‘I Don’t Incite Violence’… FLASHBACK: Offers To Pay Legal Fees Of Violent Supporters… Slams Protesters…

U.S. Politics

Protesters Take To Chicago Streets After Rahm Emanuel Apologizes For Police Scandal


‘Mayor Emanuel is morally corrupt!’

CHICAGO (AP) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel, known for keeping vise-like control over Chicago and his own political image, finds himself in the weakest position of his long public career as he struggles to respond to a police scandal, claims of cover-ups at City Hall and calls for his resignation.

The former White House chief of staff on Wednesday used a special meeting of the Chicago City Council to try to calm the firestorm, apologizing for the fatal shooting of a black teen by a white officer and promising “complete and total” reform.

“I take responsibility for what happened because it happened on my watch. And if we’re going to fix it, I want you to understand it’s my responsibility with you,” Emanuel said during a sometimes-emotional speech that lasted nearly 45 minutes. “But if we’re also going to begin the healing process, the first step in that journey is my step.

“And I’m sorry.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks during a special City Council meeting that he called to discuss a police abuse scandal Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

The remarks were Emanuel’s lengthiest and seemingly most heartfelt since the public got its first look last month at the squad car video that showed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald veering away from officer Jason Van Dyke before he began shooting, hitting McDonald 16 times. Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder.

Critics have repeatedly accused him of keeping the footage under wraps until after he won a tougher-than-expected spring election for a second term. The mayor has denied the claim and acknowledged Wednesday that he should have pressed for prosecutors to wrap up their investigation more quickly so the video could be made public.

But his contrition did little to ease the anger in the streets. Hours after the speech, protesters overflowed an intersection in front of City Hall, then marched through the financial district and blocked a major intersection for a short time as police directed traffic around them. Officers guarded the doors to the Chicago Board of Trade as demonstrators approached.

Outside City Hall, retired schoolteacher Audrey Davis carried a sign reading, “Mayor Emanuel is morally corrupt!”

Calling the speech “politically expedient,” Davis said, “I don’t want to hear anything from him except, ‘I tender my resignation.'”

Davis, who is black, said she fears for her 25-year-old grandson when he comes home from college.

“Each time he comes home, my heart is in my throat in case he meets up with a racist cop,” Davis said. “We shouldn’t have to live like this.”

Since the video emerged, Emanuel has scrambled to contain the crisis. He fired his police superintendent after days of insisting the chief had his support. He also reversed course on whether the Justice Department should launch a civil-rights investigation, saying he would welcome it only after presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and other top Democrats endorsed the idea.

In news conferences, he has appeared worn down, fumbling answers to reporters’ questions or avoiding them entirely by walking away, with cameras rolling.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him grapple with anything quite like this,” said longtime ally and adviser David Axelrod, who also served with Emanuel in the Obama White House.

Axelrod said Emanuel worked on the speech all weekend, with input from him and others. But he said the speech alone isn’t what matters.

“You don’t earn trust back with one speech,” Axelrod said. “You earn trust back with actions.”

Emanuel has repeatedly said he will not step down, and the next election — should he seek another term — isn’t until 2019.

Chicago has no statute or process in place for a mayor to be recalled, and most of the cries for Emanuel to resign have come from grassroots activists and residents, not from the city’s political powerbrokers.

The most likely impact will come in the form of pushback from aldermen, who have long been considered a rubber stamp for the mayor’s initiatives, said political consultant Delmarie Cobb. She said the black community “has been awakened,” and Emanuel can expect a tougher re-election if he tries again.

“He definitely won’t run unopposed, and it will be a viable candidate,” said Cobb, who is black.

The mayor won re-election in April by a healthy margin, but only after suffering the embarrassment of not getting a majority in a five-candidate February election, forcing the first mayoral runoff in decades.

At the time, he pledged to listen more and to “bridge the gaps between the things that divide us.”

In the months that followed, his public schools CEO, who oversaw closings of about 50 schools that angered many residents, was indicted on corruption charges. Emanuel also pushed through the largest tax increase in city history to deal with a budget crisis.

His administration has warned of massive mid-year layoffs in the public schools, and is in the midst of rocky contract negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union. This week, union members are voting on whether to authorize a strike. They could hit the picket lines as early as March.

After the video was made public, other flashpoints kept coming. Footage was released of another police shooting — this one deemed justified by prosecutors — and of another man who died in police custody. A review by the city’s quasi-independent police watchdog agency showed that of 409 shootings involving police since 2007, the agency found only two with credible allegations against an officer.

Police reports from the McDonald shooting included officer accounts that differed dramatically from the video.

In his speech, Emanuel noted the problems are ones that have plagued Chicago for decades, and that there are no simple solutions.

“We have to be honest with ourselves about this issue. Each time when we confronted it in the past, Chicago only went far enough to clear our consciences so we could move on,” he said. “This time will and must be different.”


U.S. Politics

An Officer Has Been Charged With The Murder Of Laquan McDonald. But What About The Cover-Up?



After the first murder charge against an active-duty Chicago police officer in over three decades, the city’s political establishment is eager to move on.

But while Officer Jason Van Dyke could face 20 years or more in prison if convicted of killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald over a year ago without apparent justification, the broader breakdown of the police department and city government’s responsibilities to McDonald and the broader Chicago community threatens to go unpunished.

The whole ugly thing would likely have gotten swept under the rug if journalists had not exposed an autopsy report and video footage that contradict the official narrative about what happened to McDonald. One of those journalists is Jamie Kalven, who emphasized the extensive and toxic cover-up of the killing to the Chicago Reporter on Tuesday.

Instead of taking statements from eyewitnesses, Kalven says, police moved people away from the scene of the killing. They did not take down contact information to ensure they could follow up later, witnesses told the journalist. Cops even went into a nearby fast food store and deleted nearly an hour and a half of security camera footage that may have captured the killing, the local NBC news affiliate reported back in the spring.

After neutralizing the potential for an alternative narrative based on civilian accounts and security camera footage, the police infrastructure offered its own version of events to the public. According to Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Pat Camden, “none of the officers who responded had a Taser to use on the teen and were trying to detain him long enough for one to arrive.” Camden told the Chicago Tribune that McDonald lunged at the cops, who shot him in self-defense.

The video Kalven helped expose indicates Camden was lying, or at least relaying a story that bears little resemblance to the truth. McDonald is seen jogging and then walking in the middle of a street, roughly parallel to a line of cops and cop cars. He is starting to veer away from the officers when Van Dyke empties a 16-round clip into him in about 15 seconds. Charging documents indicate that 14 of Van Dyke’s shots came while McDonald was already on the ground, and that one of the two fired while the child was standing struck him in the back first.

Van Dyke opened fire just six seconds after exiting his car and just half a minute after his vehicle arrived at the scene, according to prosecutors. Less than a minute passed between Van Dyke’s arrival to a scene where fellow officers were working to contain McDonald and detain him, and when the accused murderer had to stop and reload his service pistol because he’d fired a full clip into McDonald.

Yet the department itself claimed that McDonald died of a single gunshot to the chest, not the 16 shots to the back, legs, arms, chest, and head that Van Dyke actually fired.

The documents also say that no other officers at the scene thought McDonald had done anything threatening toward Van Dyke, corroborating the appearance of events from the dashcam video. But the investigation that produced those statements from Van Dyke’s colleagues began only after reporters challenged the official story.

Today, even with the official story of McDonald’s death in tatters, city officials appear eager to limit the blame to Van Dyke. “One individual needs to be help accountable,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on a conference call with community leaders Monday.

Once Van Dyke is prosecuted, the mayor said, “we can go as a city and begin the process of healing.” That process seems unlikely to include accountability for Van Dyke’s colleagues who abetted the official story about why and how he killed McDonald.

It’s rare for police officers to face professional accountability over misconduct allegations, let alone to be prosecuted for a crime. But its rarer still to see prosecutors, supervisors, or city officials seek broader remedies for the offending officer’s co-conspirators even when video evidence indicates a cover-up. In part that’s because it’s tough to discern between an out-and-out cover-up and a more understandable degree of confusion in the immediate wake of a police killing.

Policework requires officers to arrive at a consistent narrative of events in general, PoliceMisconduct.net managing editor Jonathan Blanks said in an email. “Each case is different, but typically officers sign-off on one another’s official accounts for consistency in any case, whether or not there is misconduct or use of force. This isn’t necessarily malevolent on the part of the officers–consistent accounts build much stronger cases than cases that have conflicting accounts,” Blanks, who has studied policing for years, said.

That baseline dynamic of policework makes it hard for even the most aggressive prosecutor to discern between willful dishonesty and good-faith consensus between officers with different vantage points and recollections.

When a group of Fullerton, CA police officers beat Kelly Thomas to death as he cried out for his father and told his assailants he couldn’t breathe in 2011, city officials initially told reporters that Thomas had actually died of a drug overdose. They also said he’d been violently resisting arrest to such an extent that multiple officers had broken bones. Neither of those claims is true, and Thomas’ father has accused Fullerton officials of intentionally smearing his son’s character in the press to excuse an abuse of force. But the broken bones claim is partially supported by initial medical reports that the officers might have fractures, and an outside review commissioned by the city found officials did not intentionally deceive the public. Two of the officers were charged and later acquitted in Thomas’ death, and the city paid out a multimillion-dollar settlement to Thomas’s father.

After Officer Timothy Loehmann killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, he claimed he’d given the child multiple verbal warnings before shooting him in the chest. Loehmann said Rice, who was holding a toy gun rather than a real weapon, then reached into his waistband. “He gave me no choice, he reached for the gun and there was nothing I could do,” Loehmann told investigators. Prosecutors have commissioned reports from experts siding with Loehmann on the reasonableness of his decision to kill Rice. Video shows he in fact shot Rice less than two seconds after arriving on the scene, and is inconclusive on the claim that Rice reached for something. Prosecutor Timothy McGinty has accused Rice’s family of being out for money rather than justice and generally stalled on deciding whether or not to charge Loehmann in the killing, but investigations have revealed that other officers are not willing to corroborate Loehmann’s claims about yelling multiple warnings prior to shooting Rice.

Sometimes, though, the cover-up question is more clear-cut. Officer Michael Slager spent days telling the world that Walter Scott had tried to take his taser, forcing him to shoot Scott fatally in South Carolina last spring, before a cell phone video exposed that Slager had in fact shot a fleeing Scott repeatedly in the back. The video appears to show Slager dropping his taser near Scott’s body only after killing him. Slager’s police department backed up his story for a matter of days before the truth came out, leading prosecutors to charge the officer with murder.

Video similarly contradicted an initially-widespread narrative in the killing of Sam DuBose by University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing. Tensing and multiple other officers said DuBose’s car had begun to drag Tensing, causing the officer to shoot the driver in self-defense. The video shows the car didn’t start moving until after Tensing put a bullet through DuBose’s head at point-blank range.

Anecdotes don’t satisfy. But there’s almost zero hard data that can shed light on the divide between legitimate officer consensus and willful cover-up. The police misconduct tracking site that Blanks helps run has flagged a small percentage of overall misconduct cases as involving some form of dishonesty by officers, but that’s a broad category.

“Our data is very limited for a number of reasons,” Blanks said. “The so-called Blue Wall of Silence is an informal institutional norm that tends to place officers’ loyalty to one another over professional dedication to justice,” in part because honest officers are afraid of what their coworkers would do to them if they don’t back a colleague’s story. That undermines the quality of the data across the board, and even those incidents where the Blue Wall breaks down can remain out of public view thanks to records laws. “The public is left to trust the administrative mechanisms to mete out officer punishments for violations…without the public eye watching over that you would see in a criminal trial,” Blanks said.


U.S. Politics



17 YEARS OLD, SHOT 16 TIMES… Cop Charged With Murder…Protesters Clash With Police… ‘A Public Lynching’…

How Chicago Tried To Cover Up A Police Murder… WHY? Video Sat In Secret For 400 Days… Burger King Says Police Deleted Security Footage… Cop Had History Of Citizen Complaints… Chicago Tribune:‘Come On. What Does It Take To Flag A Problem Cop?’…

Obama Post-Presidency Plans · President Barack Obama

Does Obama’s New York trip offer a glimpse into his post-White House life?

President Obama will be headed to Lehman College in New York to launch the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a new nonprofit that could keep him busy when he leaves the White House. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)


He still has almost two years left in office, but the outlines of President Obama’s post-White House life might be starting to take shape.

On Monday, the president will speak at the New York City launch of the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a nonprofit that is spinning off a White House initiative that his administration began in 2014. The trip to Lehman College in the Bronx is the latest in a series of hints from the White House about the president’s future plans. Last week, word leaked that Obama’s  presidential library is headed for the South Side of Chicago. In recent months there have been signs that his elder daughter, Malia, is looking at colleges in New York City.

The president and first lady still have a while to figure out where they will settle post-presidency; although in the past, they’ve suggested that they may stay in Washington long enough to let their daughter Sasha graduate from Sidwell Friends School.

Regardless of where they land, the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance seems certain to play a large part in Obama’s post-White House life. The program began as a public-private partnership designed to help men of color who are struggling to finish high school or develop the skills to find jobs. The effort sprang, in part, from the frustration that followed the 2012  shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Since then, lethal interactions between police and black men and boys in Ferguson, Mo., New York, Cleveland and North Charleston have sparked demonstrations, outrage and riots.

The latest riots in Baltimore, following the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of police, prompted the president to call last week for some collective“soul searching” on the part of the country.

“If we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could,” Obama said. “It’s just it would require everybody saying, ‘This is important, this is significant,’ and that we don’t just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns and we don’t just pay attention when a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped.”

The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance is one element of the president’s long-term solution to the problem’s faced by minority youth and urban communities struggling with poverty and a lack of jobs. The program has attracted $300 million in funding for an effort that the president has said will continue long after he has left the White House. The alliance is similar in its broad outlines to the Clinton Global Initiative, started by former president Bill Clinton in 2005, in that it serve as a magnet for corporate and individual donations.

The alliance will focus on everything from preparations for preschool to job-training and employment programs. “Persistent gaps in employment, educational outcomes and career skills remain, barring too many youth from realizing their full potential and creating harmful social and economic costs to our nation,” wrote Broderick Johnson, the chairman of the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force.

According the White House, closing the gap between young men of color and their peers could boost the U.S.  gross domestic product by as much as $2.1 trillion.

Greg Jaffe

President Barack Obama

Obama Family Reportedly Thinking About Moving to NYC Because Chicago Is a Mess

President Obama and the next Mayor of NYC Bill DeBlasio leaving Junior’s Restaurant in Brooklyn October 25, 2013 | WBLS

Upstate New York or Long Island may be their preference. Residing in the city is an option as well…


How bad is Chicago right now? Depends on where you look (the shootings kind of suck, as does the weather) but apparently it’s losing its allure enough that the Obamas may not move back after they leave the White House.

BuzzFeed reports that the Obamas are considering a move to New York after Barack’s term ends, thanks to “messy Chicago politics and a personal craving for a new beginning when they leave the White House for the last time as residents. The first family fears the Chicago they left is not one they want to return to, and a source close to the family said the long-shot New York library bid has emerged as a serious alternative.”

This may be partly due to the non-popularity of Obama’s former Chief of Staff and current Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, who Obama heavily assisted during his election and famously has low poll numbers (though those numbers are quickly rising thanks to his re-election campaign). Or maybe they don’t like the blizzards.

But why would they move somewhere that has equal amounts of bad weather? For one, suggests BuzzFeed, they may be seriously considering Columbia University’s bid for the Obama Presidential Library (he completed his undergraduate degree there, after all). They could also be considering the sad inevitable path of…becoming pundits:

Another New York Congressman, Long Island Republican Peter King, suggested New York would offer Obama a better environment for staying relevant, should he want to.

“New York is the media capital of the world. I think that’s what he wants and you don’t get that anywhere else,” said King, who added that he’d “heard second and third hand” that Obama is seriously considering New York. “I can certainly understand why.”

Let’s hope that’s not the reason, guys.

Black Youth

Chicago Teen Writes Letter To Santa Wishing For ‘Safety,’ Obama Responds

Malik Bryant | attribution not specified

This article is a couple of days old but the message from this kid is universal  and timeless within the African American community.  I can see why President Obama replied to the author of this very brief but poignant letter to Santa.

It literally broke my heart…

TPM LiveWire

Bryant’s letter was sent out to Chicago residents by the nonprofit DirectEffect Charities, in an effort to grant Christmas wishes of children living in the inner city, the Chicago Sun-Times reported this week.

But the charity’s CEO Michelle DiGiacomo was “floored” by Bryant’s note and plucked it out for a special delivery, she told the Sun-Times. She contacted her congressman, Rep. Michael Quigley (D-IL), who managed to pass the letter along to the White House.

“Someone bigger than Santa needed to see this letter. I thought the president of the United States needed to see it,” DiGiacomo told the paper.

Here’s Bryant’s letter:

Dear Santa:I would like to ask you sum[thing] but first imma tell you about me. I’m a black African American. I stand 5’10 I’m in 7th grade. My favorite subject is math. I have 2 siblings living with me and I’m the only boy on my Mom’s side of my family. But anyway all I ask for is for safety. I just wanna be safe.

On Saturday, the teenager received this letter from President Obama:

Dear Malik:
I want to offer you a few words of encouragement this holiday season.Each day, I strive to ensure communities like yours are safe places to dream, discover, and grow. Please know your security is a priority for me in everything I do as President. If you dare to be bold and creative, work hard every day, and care for others, I’m confident you can achieve anything you imagine.

I wish you and your family the very best for the coming year, and I will be rooting for you.

Barack Obama

The Chicago charity also gave Bryant a Wii game console and a new computer — but as he told the Sun-Times, a letter from Barack Obama was the standout item.

“I’m excited the president of the United States wrote to me, and I can’t wait to show it off,” Bryant told the paper.

Watch Malik open and read the letter from the President, via the Chicago Sun-Times:

U.S. Politics

False Robocalls That Wreaked Havoc On Chicago Elections Linked To GOP Activists

Voters were still lined up to vote at 1 a.m. on Wednesday, November 5 at a Chicago polling place that allowed same-day registration.
Voters were still lined up to vote at 1 a.m. on Wednesday, November 5 at a Chicago polling place that allowed same-day registration. | CREDIT: AP PHOTO/COURTESY OF LAUREN SCOTT

Surely this is just a tip in the iceberg but nothing will come of it, just as nothing came of the 2000 and 2004 election “shenanigans”…

Think Progress

Chicago election judges received misleading and factually incorrect robocalls before the midterm, causing close to 2,000 of them to not show up on Election Day. As a criminal investigation gets underway, the Chicago Sun-Times has tied the calls to two Republican activists while the Republican Party has denied involvement and distanced itself from the party members who it claims acted alone.

An unknown number of election judges received one or more automated phone calls that informed them about an additional required training session or told them they needed to vote a certain way in order to keep their position. As a result, polling places across the city were understaffed and lines reached seven hours in some precincts. A smaller number of voters were turned away from certain locations.

The city was forced to dispatch standby election judges when some polling places had just one or no election judges present at 6 a.m. when polls were scheduled to open. At the time, the Chicago Board of Elections said it didn’t know who made the calls or why they were sent out. The Cook County State’s Attorney has launched a criminal investigation and Mayor Rahm Emanuel called for hearings on the robocalls.

“There’s nothing more important than the integrity of the democratic electoral process,” Emanuel said when he and the City Council passed a resolution calling for hearings. “Somebody called with the intent to create confusion.”

While the city hasn’t revealed any additional information, the Sun Times reported that one of the callers identified himself as Jim Parrilli, a Republican committeeman for the 19th Ward who was defeated in his run for a seat on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. In one call, he identified himself as the Cook County Election Judge Coordinator and told the election judges that voting is required and “part of being a Republican judge means supporting our Republican ticket.”

Another call was made by Sharon Maroni, coordinator for the Chicago election judge program. Sources told the Sun-Times that Parrilli and Maroni were working together, but neither have been accused of any wrongdoing.

Cook County Republican Chairman Aaron Del Mar told the Sun-Times the party was not involved in the robocalls or the fraudulent activities. “Anything they did, they acted alone,” he said.

The state’s attorney’s office told ThinkProgress that an investigation is ongoing, but declined to comment on any details. Chicago Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen also said he is not commenting on the pending investigation.

Two election judges also told CBS Chicago that they were removed from their positions as committeemen with the Republican Party because they questioned the validity of the phone calls and whether election judges should be pressured to vote for a particular party.

Other issues including confusion over a new state program allowing same day registration at some polling places also contributed to the long lines that drove voters away. Lower turnout in Chicago favored Republican governor Bruce Rauner, who ended the night with a nearly five-point lead over incumbent Governor Pat Quinn.