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Archive for the ‘Illinois Tattoo’

Events to return to Rosemont’s Stephens Convention Center starting in July – Daily Herald05.06.21

After a long, pandemic-triggered absence, trade shows and public events will return this summer to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, the facility announced Tuesday.

Events will be held at the multi-hall, 840,000-square foot center on River Road starting in July. It's been dormant since March 2020, when the COVID-19 crisis resulted in restrictions on gatherings across the state, nation and world.

"We're excited to take another step toward normal," Mayor Brad Stephens said in the announcement. "It's good for Rosemont and it's good for Illinois."

A specific reopening date wasn't mentioned in the center's announcement.

An Asian-themed animation festival called Anime Midwest is scheduled to run July 2-4. Other events scheduled for July include the Exxxotica adult entertainment expo and the Chicago Tattoo Arts convention, both set to run July 16-18.

But final dates for events are being determined, a center spokesman said.

In all, about 30 events are tentatively scheduled for the center between July and Dec. 31.

Cleaning and disinfecting protocols will be enacted to prevent spread of COVID-19 and other viruses at the venue.

"The health and safety of our attendees is our highest priority," convention center Executive Director Chris Stephens said in the release. "We closely track and follow all best practices and guidance from the CDC and the Illinois Department of Public Health."

Before the pandemic, the Donald E. Stephens Convention and Conference Center hosted about 70 trade shows and 250 meetings and social events annually, according to the facility. The events bring about 1.5 million visitors and an $800 million economic impact to the region, village officials said.

Some draw tens of thousands of people to the venue and nearby hotels, restaurants and other businesses.

The center reopening will boost traffic "dramatically" at the Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse across the street, said Patrick Houlihan, managing partner for the Gibsons Restaurant Group.

"It has a really big trickle-down effect for everybody," Houlihan said.

The last event held at the convention center was the World of Wheels car show in early March 2020.

Other suburban hotels and convention centers are planning to host events starting this summer, too. For example, the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo is set for June 3-5 at the Schaumburg Convention Center.

"We are going to have a complete show with wonderful vendors, fabulous classrooms and teachers, and some really great quilt displays," said Liz Fredrick, sales manager for the event.

And the Chicago Auto Show, the Black Women's Expo and other events are planned for Chicago's McCormick Place.

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New Steelers center Kendrick Green ‘nasty’ on the surface, but there’s much more to him – Galesburg Register-Mail05.06.21

By Brian Batko| Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)

PITTSBURGH When Zack Belk was being recruited to play college football 12 years ago, his younger brother wanted to come along on the visits. It was on a trip to Knox College, a Division III school in Galesburg, Illinois,that the head coach couldn't believe the size of 10-year-old Kendrick Green, and told him right then and there they'd love to have him on the team someday.

He was only half-joking.

"I always tell people that was his first offer," Belk said with a laugh Saturday afternoon. "They were recruiting me, but then they really wanted Kendrick."

Somewhere, that coach was probably patting himself on the back Friday night when the Steelers chose Green out of Illinois not Knox to be their third-round draft pick. And maybe their next great center?

The 6-foot-2, 305-pound Green got the call from Mike Tomlin at Belk's house, in their hometown of Peoria, Illinois.Belk, 30, is eight years older than Green, so he's had a front-row seat to watch his brother go from Major League Baseball hopeful to dominant lineman and now to much-needed help for a beleaguered Steelers offense.

"Sometimes you see guys and it's like they were just big and stumbled onto football, and they're really good," Belk said. "Kendrick's story and him being drafted is a culmination of all his efforts since he's been 5 years old."

Green's older brother called him "real nasty," which is key for new Steelers offensive line coach Adrian Klemm, who takes over the No. 1 job presiding over that unit after Shaun Sarrett was not retained this offseason. Klemm had been the Steelers' assistant offensive line coach, but now he can have even more of a hand in shaping that group, and the first rookie added to it was Green.

There are questions, no doubt, about the team's newest lineman. He was listed at 6-4 on the Illinois roster but measured in a shade under 6-2 at his pro day. In college, 29 of his 33 starts came at guard, and only four at center, where the Steelers must replace All-Pro stalwart Maurkice Pouncey. But he already checks what might be the biggest box for the Steelers, and that's a mentality and a physicality Klemm won't have to teach.

"He just finishes plays with a nasty demeanor and imposes his will every play," Klemm said Friday night.

For Green, his disposition isn't without talent to back it up. Yes, he's on the smaller side for an offensive lineman, but he showed his athleticism with a 4.88 40-yard dash faster than any other interior lineman who ran at his pro day this year and 9-foot-11-inch broad jump, by far the best of any 2021 center. Not that he'll be running 40 yards downfield very often, but his 10-yard split time of 1.69 seconds an indicator of initial burst also was tops in the class.

It should be no surprise, then, that Green didn't just pick up football because he was a burly kid. He just happened to excel at that sport the most, given his powerful frame. Growing up, he went to the local basketball camp sponsored by Peoria legend Shaun Livingston, the fourth overall NBA draft pick in 2004 who won three titles with the Golden State Warriors. Green really enjoyed baseball as a first baseman and power-hitter who was "so strong that if he just touched the ball, it was gone," his brother remembered.

"He was really good. He'll get mad I'm sharing this, but at one point when he was a little kid, he wanted to quit football and just focus on baseball," Belk said. "Kendrick's a workhorse, but when he was a kid, he hated to go to football practice. He was like, 'Man, baseball's so much easier,' when he was 9 or 10. I said, 'You're just being lazy.' I told him you're much better at football than baseball. He said, 'I'm going to MLB!'"

Instead, Green racked up most of his accolades on the field and the mat. He finished third in the state in wrestling as a senior heavyweight and played both ways to help Peoria High School win its first football state championship that same year. Green racked up 12 varsity letters in all and even earned a spot on the U.S. under-19 football team that played in the world championships in China.

He elected to head to Champaign and play for the hometown Fighting Illini but had a bit of a rude awakening. Not only did he redshirt his first year, but the coaching staff had seen enough of him at the position he was recruited for, moving him from defensive tackle to the offensive line.

"I was awful at defense," the gregarious Green admitted Friday night shortly after being drafted.

Of course, the switch worked out well for his football future. But as he's evolved, Green has come to care about more than just what happens between the lines. Last summer, he spent most of three days working the phones to organize a rally for racial equality on the Illinois campus.

Green led a march that ended at the Champaign Police Department, and eventually he spoke to the crowd assembled around him. He told them public speaking isn't his strong suit, but that the goal of the event was to unify the community and raise awareness of police brutality, while acknowledging that "Rome wasn't built in a day."

"Peoria is definitely a very racially divided city, when you talk about inequality. And when you're Black and you grow up in a bad part of town that is suffering heavily from poverty, you grow up seeing those things," Belk said of his brother, a sociology major. "His teammate now, [Najee Harris], who was homeless for a time that's not Kendrick's story. He had a decent childhood. But being around it and being so close to it your entire life, you just have a soft spot in your heart to that type of stuff. He's older now. He's not an idiot. He's a pretty smart guy. He sees a lot of what's happening in his own city and the world, and he's passionate about it."

On that day in late August, people were literally following Green, including Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman, then-football coach Lovie Smith, basketball coaches Brad Underwood and Orlando Antigua, plus plenty of student-athletes. But at his pro day in March, Klemm watched how teammates gravitated to his leadership and "commanding presence" from a football perspective.

That's always a good quality to have in a center, one Pouncey was revered for in Pittsburgh and in college. Klemm was careful not to compare Green to Pouncey or Dermontti Dawson and Mike Webster, a couple other college guards who moved to the middle and turned into Hall of Famers but when you're a center for the Steelers, the bar is set sky-high. It just so happens Green also idolized the Pouncey twins' playing style, and he even wore No. 53 like Maurkice and brother Mike.

"I play with a mean streak," said Green, who squatted 700 pounds last spring and has a tattoo of Ares, the Greek god of war, on his left forearm. "I'm looking to play physical and finish guys."

Klemm always wants his center to set the tone for the rest of the line, but first, Green will have to beat out veteran B.J. Finney and former undrafted free agent J.C. Hassenauer. His inner circle believes he's up for the challenge, and the journey began Friday night with his siblings, friends, fraternity brothers and proud father, LaMont Carroll, by his side.

But most important was his 5-month-old daughter in his lap.

"He loves her to death, and she's honestly the driving force of what's going to hopefully keep him grounded and make sure he's smart with his finances," Belk said. "He's not going to be that guy you read stories about being a rookie, going out, doing dumb stuff, messing up his shot on the field. He's there to work. He wants to start, he wants to win and he wants a Super Bowl."

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New Steelers center Kendrick Green 'nasty' on the surface, but there's much more to him - Galesburg Register-Mail

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Illinois Gov. Pritzker Activates National Guard To Protect The State Capitol Ahead Of Inauguration – WBEZ01.20.21

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker activated the Illinois National Guard Friday and crews began boarding up windows at the statehouse to protect the state Capitol complex from possible armed violence ahead of President-elect Joe Bidens swearing-in.

Pritzkers deployment of 250 Guard members to downtown Springfield comes in response to an FBI bulletin earlier this week warning of armed protests in all 50 state capitals and potential disruptions to Bidens inauguration itself.

We will be adequately protected, the governor said during a briefing with reporters Friday, though he added he was unaware of any threats specifically targeting the state Capitol building.

Meanwhile, crews from the Office of the Capitol Architect spent Friday boarding up first-floor and basement windows around the statehouse in an unprecedented precaution to fend off any potential marauders supporting President Trumps false election narrative.

Additionally, Pritzker ordered up another 100 Guard members to join 200 Illinois troops already deployed to the nations capital, following last weeks insurrection by a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump.

Following the violent siege at our nations Capitol and reports from federal law enforcement on threats to state capitals, I am bringing all resources to bear to protect our residents and our democratic process, Pritzker said earlier Friday in a statement.

Our exemplary members of the Illinois National Guard will be working closely with our State Police as well as local and federal authorities to keep our capital city safe, he said. We will continue to be fully transparent with the public on any new information and the steps we are taking to respond.

The governors statement said the National Guard would not interfere with any peaceful protests that might arise in Springfield this weekend or next week, and the 250 Guard members will aide local authorities in enforcing street closures and designated perimeters.

At least two people from Illinois have been charged in the riot, including a suburban man who has since been fired from his tech startup and a Roselle tattoo artist.

In other developments Friday, the governor avoided any condemnation of newly seated Illinois House Speaker Emanuel Chris Welch over a 2002 police report involving domestic battery against a woman. No charges were filed as a result of the event, which state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, said should warrant further scrutiny.

In a Friday interview with WCIA-TV, the Champaign-based CBS affiliate, Welch, of Hillside, denied hitting the woman.

Let me say that Speaker Welch answered questions repeatedly from the caucus, and I think thats one of the reasons he ultimately was elected, that he adequately answered those questions to the caucus, Pritzker said.

Speaker Welch has addressed that publicly, the governor continued. Hes been asked publicly about it. Hes been asked privately about it and has earned the support of many women and womens groups. I think thats important to point out in the context of the questions that have been asked.

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Tattooers Talking About Their Love of Pantera – INKED01.20.21

Its been over 20 years since their last album and 18 since the band broke up, but the mark Pantera left on the music world will last forever. Over the course of their five classic albums (everyone involved pretends the preceding four never happened), Pantera delivered countless heavy riffs and classic jams.

Our friends over at REVOLVER are celebrating all things Pantera by releasing the Book of Pantera. The collectors issue comes with five separate covers, each celebrating one of Panteras classic albums: Cowboys From Hell, Vulgar Display of Power, Far Beyond Driven, The Great Southern Trendkill and Reinventing the Steel. Theyve also released limited edition vinyl versions of each of those albums, available in bundles with the coinciding magazine.

The release made us a little nostalgic for the iconic metal band, I couldnt help thinking about the first time I ever heard Pantera. I was at the Odeum in Villa Park, Illinois to watch an ECW pay-per-view. The main event involved Rob Van Dam, who used to walk out to the ring to Panteras Walk. The second that grinding riff came out over the PA, the crowd erupted, soon screaming along, Re! Spect! Walk! What did you say? It was intoxicating. As I rode home from the event I couldnt get the song out of my head, in part because it was such an earworm, but also because it was the soundtrack to such an electric evening. Less than 24 hours later I was slipping my brand new copy of Vulgar Display of Power into the CD player of my Chrysler LeBaron and driving far too fast cranking the volume to a level that tested the integrity of they poor cars speakers.

My own fond memories of Pantera led me to reach out to some of our favorite tattoo artists who love to keep their shops loud while they work and asked them some questions about the original Cowboys From Hell.

Jesse Levitt: I first heard Pantera when I was 15 when my friend gave me the album Far Beyond Driven.

Nikki Simpson: The first time I heard Pantera was actually when I was a preteen watching Beavis and Butthead. They were watching the music video This Love and making fun of Phil Anselmo as if Pantera was a kid, like, Dammit Pantera this beer is warm, get me another one! And You treat your stepmother with respect, Pantera! Or youll be sleeping in the street!

Mada Fleming: I was maybe 7 or 8 years old. My mom was dating some scary dude with long hair and tattoos. Pantera popped up on the radio and he blasted it. I remember being super freaked out. I cant recall if it was Mouth for War or Walk but it was one of those songs. I was super put off but also enthralled that music could create fear and excitement like that. When youre a kid, its like watching a scary movie. I definitely wanted more of that feeling.

Jesse Levitt: My favorite song would be 5 Minutes Alone. Its just catchy and badass. Gets me pumped up to shred on my skate or snowboard! Which is my other passion other than art and tattooing.

Nikki Simpson: Id probably have to say Becoming is my favorite song. The lyrics are so gnarly and empowering and the main riff is just so nasty and groovy, all that shredding you typically hear from Dimebag wasnt even needed for this to just be a strong, heavy ass song. There was a point in my life where I hung on a lot of musicians lyrics for strength, and having someone as powerful as Phil translating pain and anger into being born again, with snakes eyes, becoming godsize. It just gives you the chills and motivation to be a bad motherfucker and rise above. So its either that song or Domination. That song has the heaviest breakdown of all time, of any genre of metal. I have DOMINATE tattooed on my knuckles because of that song.

Mada Fleming: Im trying not to be a basic bitch and say Cemetery Gates, but that song had a huge impact on me because before that I had only heard the harder side of Pantera. Before that I had never even owned an album of theirs because I think I was still too young to ask my mom to buy me one in fear that she would be worried [laughs]. Definitely Cemetery Gates.

Jesse Levitt: The bands legacy will always be that they are super fucking tough. Dimebag will always be remembered as a metal hero for sure, as will the rest of the band.

Mada Fleming: At the time [they were active], I feel like Pantera was the only major label band carrying the flag for true metal, while most of their contemporaries were going soft. They just continued to get heavier with each release. Not to mention Dimebag Darrell, obviously.

Nikki Simpson: Pantera is that band that no matter what genre of metal youre intofrom death metal, to hardcore, to thrash, to black metal, and shit, even glam rock and bluestheres something for everyone in their music. Their groove and heaviness and musical virtuosity is unparalleled and their sound just cant be replicated. Aside from their sound being timeless, their southern swagger and badass attitude just made them somehow even fucking cooler because you knew not a second of it was a gimmick. These dudes just came to shred and party and anytime you hear Pantera, youre instantly pumped. Thats a mighty fine legacy to me.

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Proposed NY Biometric Privacy Act Would Allow Private Right of Action – Ad Law Access01.09.21

New York may become the latest state to allow consumers to sue companies for improperly collecting, retaining or using certain biometric data. Earlier this week, a bipartisan slate of state legislators (17 Democrats, 7 Republicans) introduced Assembly Bill 27, which seeks to amend New Yorks General Business Law to add a new article known as the Biometric Privacy Act. Of primary interest here is the bills grant to individual consumers of a right to sue companies that violate the terms of this potential new law.

What the Law Would Cover. Currently, Illinois is the only state with a biometric privacy statute that provides for a similar private right of action. Illinoiss Biometric Information Privacy Act, commonly known as BIPA, has been the subject of previous discussion here. The requirements of the proposed New York law largely mirror BIPA. For example, both have a private right of action and substantially similar definitions of biometric identifiers and biometric information, prohibitions regarding the collection, storage, and transfer of such information, and penalty provisions. Should the law pass, the trends and jurisprudence that have emerged from the litigation in Illinois will be particularly instructive to New York companies.

New Yorks proposed bill applies to biometric identifiers such as retina or iris scans, fingerprints, voiceprints, hand or face geometry scans used to identify an individual, and biometric information that is used to identify an individual based on his biometric identifier(s). The bill specifically excludes certain data from its scope, including writing samples, written signatures, photographs, human biological samples used for valid scientific purposes, demographic data, tattoo descriptions, and physical descriptions such as height, weight, hair color, and eye color. (We note that the proposed law would be consistent with New York SHIELD Acts expanded definition of private information.)

What the Law Would Require. The proposed law requires private entities in possession of biometric identifiers orbiometric information (collectively referred to herein as biometric data) to develop public, written policies establishing a data retention schedule and destruction guidelines. It also prohibits private entities from collecting, capturing, purchasing, receiving through trade, or otherwise obtaining a persons biometric data unless it first:

(1) informs the subject in writing that biometric data is being collected or stored,

(2) the specific purpose of the collection and the length of time for which it is being collected, stored and used, and

(3) obtains a written release from the subject.

The bill also prohibits private entities from selling, leasing, trading, or otherwise profiting from a persons biometric data. Further, a private entity that discloses or otherwise disseminatesa persons biometric data may do so only:

(1) upon obtaining the subjects consent;

(2) to complete a financial transaction at the subjects request,

(3) if such disclosure is required by federal, state or local law or ordinance, or

(4) if a valid warrant or subpoena requires such disclosure.

Private Right of Action. Significantly, the proposed bill includes a private right of action in New York supreme court for any violation of the statutes requirements. Where a violation is found, the prevailing consumer may recover the greater of actual damages or liquidated damages per violation of up to $1,000 for a negligent violation and up to $5,000 for an intentional or reckless violation. The statute also includes provisions that allow for recovery of attorneys fees and costs. There is no bar on aggregated or class claims.

In Illinois, BIPA has been the catalyst for an active stream of consumer lawsuits in both state and federal court. Such claims were bolstered by an Illinois Supreme Court holding that even mere technical violations of the statute were sufficient to warrant consumer recovery. Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entr Corp., 129 N.E. 3d 1197 (Il. 2019). Illinois experience with private consumer litigation is instructive for the scope that it has reached. Thus far, litigants have used it to raise various hot-button issues, including questions around companies employment practices such as the use of fingerprints for timekeeping records and retailers use of facial recognition technology in their store security measures.

Assembly Bill 27 has been referred to the Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee. We will continue to monitor its status and other laws/litigation related to biometric privacy.

If you have questions about your pending or potential litigation risks arising from use, storage, or sale of personal information, please reach out to a member of our team.

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Police looking for man who tried to rob woman in Collinsville Walmart parking lot – KSDK.com01.03.21

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. Police are looking for an armed man that tried to rob a woman of her purse in the parking lot of a Collinsville, Illinois, Walmart Sunday afternoon.

Officers were called to the Walmart on Collinsville Crossing Boulevard at around 3 Sunday afternoon for a report of an attempted robbery. When they arrived, they were told two patrons were loading up their cars when a man got out of the passenger side of a dark SUV and approached them.

They said the man demanded the victim's purse and showed her the gun in his waistband. The woman refused and started yelling for help, at which time the suspect jumped back into the dark SUV and sped off.

No one was injured in the incident.

Police said the suspect was about 6-foot tall with a thin build and a tattoo on his neck. He was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Douglas Talbot at 618-344-2131 Ext. 5279 or Crimestoppers at 866-371-8477.

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Commentary: One last standing ovation for Peoria Rivermen goal judge dead at 69 – Peoria Journal Star12.25.20

Dave Eminian|Journal Star

PEORIA It was a comfort to see Craig Curry in that glass box every night, finger on the trigger as a goal judge at Peoria Rivermen games all those years.

He served the Rivermen and the leagues they were in with perfection andpoise.

Curry died in his home Dec. 9, from a cardiac issue, at age 69.

And that has triggered an outpouring of respect and condolences on social media from former Rivermen players, coaches, team and league staff members and fans, friends, teammates and work colleagues.

Clearly, he was much more than a goal judge. We saw him in that glass box on game night, but we saw him on skates playing, saw him coaching kids, saw him on a baseball field, softball field and padded up playing football for Bradley University.

Saw him in the hallways at Caterpillar. Saw him, always, with that smile.

Rivermen co-owner Bart Rogers had this story to tell among the more than 150 Facebook tributes:

"Never will forget the first game I went to as a fan. First game ever seeing one live. He was goal judge in the box in Section 19 (at Carver Arena). There was a big hit that knocked down the red and green light mounted (on top of the goal judge box) and struck him in the head and split him open, blood everywhere.

"Someone gave him a towel and he kept working his spot in the box 'tilend of period. I guess he was probably stitched up in the locker room at intermission and he came back with white gauze wrapped around his entire head and the crowd gave him a standing O!

"I always kidded him about it making a lasting impression on my first ever hockey game I attended. He just laughed."

Wrote Keith King Sr. on Facebook: "God must have needed a power hitting 3rd baseman. I spent more collective time with you than I did with my parents. Will always be indebted to you for the knowledge you bestowed upon me and my children. Rest easy Pops."

Carl Ballard on Facebook: "A good friend who shared a passion for baseball and softball with me from 1975-79 in Peoria, Illinois. I will miss him and that infectious laugh."

Peoria Mustangs head coach Steve Ortman on Facebook: "A great man."

Former Rivermen center Richard Pion on Facebook: "Condolences to the family and to all of his friends."

Former Rivermen defenseman Dominic Lavoie on Facebook: "If I remember correctly he was working the home penalty box while I was there. Always up for a quick '2-minute' chat. Amazing how you get to know people throughout your life. ... Great man!!!! My condolences to his family and friends!!!"

Jerry Rashid, on Facebook: "My condolences to his family. I also remember him as a teammate in the Sunday Morning League. He was a first class gentleman!"

Former Rivermen winger and IHL Playoff MVP Denis Cyr: "He was a good man with a great smile, he will be missed."

Former Rivermen winger and Pekin native Butch Kaebel: "Our Condolences! A great man who loved hockey!"

Robin Jones wrote: "Besides hockey, I knew Craig as a member of the MICC (Mid Illinois Corvette Club)! ... He was a great guy!!"

Curry was born in Chicago and attended De La Salle Institute there. He graduated from Bradley University with a degree in electrical engineering, and went on to work 42 years at Caterpillar.

He played club hockey as a college student. Later hejoined the semi-pro Peoria Blades and played seven seasons as a right wing. He coached youth hockey, embedding himself in the Peoria hockey community.

He was a power-hitting third baseman on the softball field. At Bradley, in the 1970s, he played for the school's football team, and was on the last team before the sport ended there.

He was preceded in death by an infant daughter, Brittany, and survived by his wife, Linda, daughters, Sherriand Tiffany and sons Rhasaan and Dr. Craig Curry II.

Hockey, corvettes, coaching, softball, baseball, engineering, husband and father ... Craig Curry led an inspiring life.

"He was a very stoic person," said his daughter, Tiffany Curry. "Everyone was very comfortable when he was in the goal judge box.

"He loved to do that."

Tiffany Curry grew up at Rivermen games, accompanying her father. Later, she became a goal judge, too. And in the SPHL, father and daughter twice took up opposite ends of the ice and served as goal judges in the same Rivermen game.

"He'd talk about every game, all the way home," she said. "If there was a rough game, or a questionable call, and I got nervous about it, he'd talk through it with me, give me advice.

"He did that, he was everyone's advisor. Just a logical man."

And his daughter has a logical plan to remember him by.

"Because of dad, I was the one who always gravitated toward sports," Tiffany Curry said. "So I'm going to get a tattoo in his honor.

"It's two hockey sticks, crossed over a puck, and on one side it will say 'Father' and on the other side 'Daughter.' "

That's all for CleveIn The Eve on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020.

Here's your sports quote of the day:

Sports teaches you character. It teaches you to play by the rules. It teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose. It teaches you about life.

Billie Jean King

Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers Bradley men's basketball, the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or deminian@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.

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"We need closure": Family of missing Decatur mother hopeful after search warrant executed on home – WAND12.14.20

DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) A family is pleading for answers after a mother of two disappeared more than a month ago.

Norma Crutchfield was reported missing by her family in November. On Saturday, December, 12, 2020, Decatur Police, along with the Illinois State Police Crime Scene Investigation Unit executed a search warrant at a home on the 1100 block of East Olive. Police told WAND News in November the home was the last place Crutchfield was seen.

"It is sad. I mean, it is my cousin," Normas cousin, Ryan Blankenship, said. "We need some closure with it. It is driving my aunt crazy with it."

Blankenship is hopeful what police found in the home on the corner of Jasper Street will lead to answers about where his cousin is. During the search of the home investigators took several bags of evidence from the home.

"I just hope that they find what they are looking for this time. It has been going on for a while, Sherry Evans, who lives across the street, said she woke up and opened up the curtains and there were all kinds of detective cars, sheriff's cars. The fire department came in."

For Crutchfields family, they hope what happened at the home on a dark dreary day will bring the familys ray of sunshine back, so a familys painful void can be filled and a family can be reunited.

"I still feel she is out there somewhere, Blankenship said. Just don't know where

Crutchfield is a 41-year-old white female, with brown hair, green eyes and is about 5'7" tall. She weighs around 115 lbs.

Crutchfield is also reported to have a butterfly tattoo on her right ankle and right shoulder, a flower tattoo on her left shoulder, a heart tattoo on her right thigh, a star tattoo on her left foot, an animal tattoo on her left thigh, a rose and vine tattoo on her right thigh, and a name tattooed on her neck.

Police tell WAND News that they are looking at all angles including if Crutchfield just stepped away or if foul play was involved.

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Caught In The System – NPR Illinois12.14.20

I. Slauson and Crenshaw

Lisa P is from Crenshaw. She knows all its avenues, all its corners. She has it all mapped out in her head, what it means to move from one block to the next. She's 57 years old, and grew up running these streets. She was born Ellisa McKnight but prefers the nickname she's gone by since childhood.

Slauson Avenue runs east-west through Crenshaw. Driving toward the Pacific Ocean down Slauson, Lisa moves one of her box braids away from her face and hits her joint as she passes one of the neighborhood's unofficial landmarks, Slauson swap meet. Looking out her car window at the sign that reads Slauson Supermall, Lisa P says that it was on this very site that she first remembers seeing a boy who would grow up to be one of Crenshaw's most celebrated and most mourned sons.

"He stood right there, by that pole," she recalls. "Skinny, little scrawny kid selling incense."

The young salesman Lisa remembers spotting on this L.A. street corner was named Ermias Asghedom. A couple of decades later, he'd be known not just in Crenshaw but around the world as Nipsey Hussle, his new name glorifying the work ethic that earned him notice as a kid and acclaim and success as an artist and businessman as an adult. Throughout, he remained a fixture in the neighborhood. In fact, if you keep driving a mile and a half down Slauson, past neighborhood restaurants and fast food joints, salons and dollar stores and churches and mosques, you'll arrive at a strip mall on the corner of Crenshaw Boulevard that's the home of The Marathon Clothing Store, where Nipsey would stake his claim, where he'd do everything he could to change Crenshaw for the better and where, on March 31, 2019, in the parking lot of the store he owned, he'd be shot and killed.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Nipsey Hussle was the epitome of a hustler. Like Lisa P and many of the other young people who grow up in this neighborhood, he was a member of the Rollin 60s Crips, one of L.A.'s biggest sets, from the time he was a teenager. He never denied being affiliated. Once his music took off, he repped his set in every song. But he was also a community advocate for Crenshaw, and constantly gave back to his hood.

"He never lived up to ... society's expectations of what he should be," says Karen Civil, one of Nipsey's former business partners. "Society's expectation is, 'Oh, he's just a quote-unquote gang banger from the Crenshaw district.' Not at all. He's an entrepreneur. He's a Grammy award winner. He's a father. He's everything in between and he exceeded the expectations of what society thought."

The story of Nipsey Hussle's life has been retold into mythology, a hip-hop fairy tale, one that reinforces the illusion of the American dream: a self-made man who came up from the bottom, stayed connected with his community and used his art as a vehicle to change it. But the irony of his untimely death sheds light on the larger backdrop of inequality in his hood the phenomenon of mass supervision in Black communities.

"If you wrote a story like this, it would seem too on the nose," says Jeff Weiss, a writer and cultural critic from L.A. "It would seem too perfectly scripted to create the saddest possible tragedy it's like, Shakespearean."

Before he was Nipsey, Ermias Asghedom grew up the son of an immigrant in a family that couldn't even afford back-to-school clothes. He didn't see many options to support himself or his family, and around the age of 14, he joined the Rollin 60s.

In a 2018 interview with Hot 97, he talked about how being in the gang changed his life. "I adapted to the culture ... Naturally, that's not who I am," he said. "As kids we come from nurturing, but there's a lack of that in the coldness you get from going outside. The world said we was wrong, but the set embraced you for who you was. And that's the allure of gang banging."

Being in the set gave him a brotherhood, afforded him protection. He wore his pride in his colors and his "Slauson Boy" tattoos, which also made him a mark for police surveillance. In the early 2000s, the LAPD was still cracking down hard on gang violence. In an interview with NPR the year before he died, Nipsey described the reality he faced growing up in Crenshaw.

"If you check the stats the murder rates in the years I was a teenager and the incarceration rates in L.A. in my section of the Crenshaw district, of the Rollin 60s when I was 14, 15 none of my peers survived. None of my peers avoided prison. None of 'em," he said.

Then his world broadened. In 2004, after spending his entire life in South Central, Nipsey traveled to his father's homeland, Eritrea, with his dad and his brother. Over a visit that lasted a few months, he saw a whole country of people who looked like him living autonomously, taking pride in their country. It lit a fire under him to build community like that back at home.

"I was 19 when I came back, so I was still knee-deep in what was going on in L.A.," he said on Hot 97. But something in him had changed. "You know, you got those two voices. This one became a lot louder because I couldn't fake like I wasn't exposed to the way things could be. And you know, I think it led to me making decisions that brought me into music."

The music he made showed you the world he knew, with shout-outs to OGs and local stomping grounds. He was honest about experiences in his hood. "I wasn't always banging but I speak about it openly," he rapped in 2013. "No shame in my game. I did my thing on the coldest streets."

His music won fans among peers and critics. "He had kind of the laid-back stoner cool of a Snoop, but had more of the mission and ethos of like, a Tupac," Weiss says.

Aside from the bars, Nipsey followed his own entrepreneurial drive to sell what made him unique in rap. He created a recording label called All Money In and in 2013 got attention from the whole music industry for his creative approach to marketing when he sold 1,000 copies of his mixtape Crenshaw for $100 a pop. Jay Z bought 100 copies himself.

"Like, so many of us are way more than what we look like," says songwriter James Fauntleroy, who worked with Nipsey throughout his career and appears on Crenshaw. "Every now and then you find somebody that, in a good way, is so out of character that they're a more interesting character in the play of life."

"I say there's weather changers and weather reporters," says Larrance Dopson, Fautleroy's collaborator and one of Nipsey's longtime producers. "Nipsey and a few of us, we're weather changers."

In 2018, he finally dropped an official debut album, Victory Lap, which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and went on to be nominated for a best rap album Grammy.

All the while, he was working on other ventures. In 2017, he and his brother, Blacc Sam, opened an L.A. storefront to sell their merch and spread their ethos. They called it The Marathon Clothing Store, and it wasn't on Fairfax or Melrose, far removed from the streets that gave Nipsey his grind. It was right in the heart of the hood that made him. The store was part of his focus on Black ownership, and entrepreneurial strategy to "buy back the block."

At Marathon, Nipsey hired parolees to sweep up or even work the register. He wanted to give people opportunities he never had as a kid, opportunities that have never really existed for people in Crenshaw. He was known to donate clothing to people in the neighborhood who needed it, especially OGs coming home after doing time.

***

That commitment to his hood led Nipsey to do something unexpected: He wrote a letter to the LAPD. It read, in part:

"Our goal is to work with the department to help improve communication, relationships and work towards changing the culture and dialogue between LAPD and the inner city. We want to hear about your new programs and your goals for the department as well as how we can help stop gang violence and help you help kids."

In Crenshaw, cops were the opposition, and people who talked to cops were even worse: snitches. Being a snitch meant you were a threat in the hood.

At least one person in the LAPD wanted to make a connection. Steve Soboroff was, at that time, the president of the LAPD's Board of Police Commissioners, a group of civilians that lead the department by setting policy and playing liaison between the public and the police (Soboroff is still on the board, but no longer president). When he got Nipsey's email, he was impressed, and went to work setting up a meeting between Nipsey and his management team at Roc Nation and Michel Moore, the chief of police.

"I thought it was an opportunity to let him know what we do, and for him to let us know what his ideas were," Soboroff says. "And so, 'Tell me about the culture and dialogue from the perspective of people that come into your store.' "

But then, a standstill. Though Soboroff tried to get time on the books for a sit down, he says some members of the department wanted to look into Nipsey's background, specifically related to his gang affiliations.

"That's why the meeting didn't happen two months earlier," Soboroff says. "The department was a little bit reluctant. ... It's hard to get off a gang database, and when people can't get off a gang database when they're no longer gang members and they've paid their dues, it can affect their future."

Finally, though, Soboroff and Roc Nation managed to schedule a meeting between Nipsey and Moore for the afternoon of Monday, April 1, 2019.

But that meeting never happened. On Sunday, March 31, 2019, Nipsey was in the parking lot outside Marathon Clothing, as he was most Sundays. He had a small crowd around him, some taking selfies, some chopping it up.

Not all of the conversations he had that day were so casual. Later, two eyewitnesses testified in a grand jury hearing that they heard Nipsey and another man, a Rollin 60s Crip named Eric Holder Jr., talking about the dangers of cooperating with police. Nipsey warned Eric that there were rumors about police having paperwork on him, that the streets might see him as a snitch. Eric tried to brush it off. The conversation was tense, but cordial. The men dapped, and Eric left to get some food.

A few minutes later, another man named Kerry Lathan, who had until recently been in jail, and who had been the recipient of Nipsey and Marathon's generosity, pulled up to say hello, to thank Nipsey for the help he'd given him and to pitch him some designs for a T-shirt he'd sketched.

Then shots broke out. According to videotaped evidence and eyewitness accounts, Eric Holder walked back up to Nipsey with a gun in each hand, and started firing.

Kerry was hit in the spine, and fell to the ground. He couldn't see anything except the feet of people all around him, until he saw Nipsey fall to the ground beside him. Surveillance footage captured the shooter unloading nearly a dozen bullets into Nipsey before running to a nearby car. Nipsey and Kerry were rushed to the hospital, and at 3:55 p.m. on March 31, 2019, Nipsey was pronounced dead.

A few days later, Holder was arrested and later charged with murder. He pleaded not guilty, but his trial has been delayed multiple times.

In January of 2020, Kerry Lathan was sitting in a wheelchair under the shade of a small gazebo in the courtyard of a Long Beach rehabilitation center. He had on a navy sweatsuit and his gray goatee has been freshly shaped up. Kerry had been in the rehab center for a month, recovering from a right brain stroke.

On this day, as with many others, Kerry is here with Lisa P, who he calls his sister, though the two of them aren't related. Lisa, dressed in a maroon sweat suit, glitter lash extension and her red box braids up in a bun, helps Kerry eat and wheels him around they're about the same age, but she treats him protectively, very much like a baby brother.

Kerry and Lisa have been like siblings since they were kids, and they've seen gang life in Crenshaw change over generations. They got down with the Rollin 60s when the set first started in the 1970s, and Lisa says that at the time, it was more like a youth club, a family formed to escape the ones they had at home who were neglecting or sometimes abusing them.

Lisa has great memories of those early days with her friends. She remembers sneaking out at night with a group, gathering up pillows and blankets and hopping the fence into the 59th Street Schoolyard, where they'd push benches together and make one big bed to have a sleepover under the stars. Instead of s'mores, they'd split a chicken dinner between them.

Accounts of the formation of the Crips echo that all-for-one, one-for-all mentality. The gang emerged in the void left behind as Black liberation groups like the Black Panthers were being dismantled. Lisa P even claims that Crip is an acronym for "Community Revolution in Progress."

Soon subsets like the Rollin 60s formed under the Crips' umbrella. Some sets broke off entirely, forming new gangs with new territories, colors and codes. Desperate conditions in their neighborhoods intensified over the years. When crack started flooding in, gangs went into business selling it. Beefs started over sales territory and many of those rivalries got set in stone.

By 1985, South Central L.A. was a hotspot of the crack epidemic in America and violent crime in the city kept rising for almost another decade. As it did, the LAPD's CRASH Units were smashing into homes, yoking up whoever and arresting men en masse. Incarceration rates were skyrocketing, and the hip-hop of the era, by artists like Ice-T and N.W.A., was steeped in the reality that Lisa and Kerry were living through, painting vivid pictures of harassment by police.

"Why are they saying 'F*** the police,' though?" Lisa says. "Because we could be sitting in front of a store minding our own damn business and they're trained to come and antagonize us. That's why we say 'F*** the police.' "

Musicians like NWA spoke to everything Lisa was seeing around her, and gave her pain a new vocabulary. But most people coming up in chaos like that, she says, aren't given the chance to nurture their talent.

"A lot of people aren't able to understand their purpose in my neighborhood because they're trying to survive," Lisa says. " 'I need milk. I need bread. Damn it, I just got a gas bill. Oh my god, my lights is off.... How am I going to even think of anything else? I have no room in my mind to think of nothing else because I'm so busy trying to survive.' "

By the 1980s, Kerry was married and had started his family. He was trying to hold down various jobs, but he was already on the police's radar, having been in and out of jail for robbery and battery. It made it hard to even get interviews. Selling drugs presented fewer hurdles and higher rewards.

"You know, when you would leave broke and come back with 10 or 20 thousand dollars in your hand, that became habit forming," he says. Soon he was dealing full time. But Kerry developed a reputation for giving people who were short money they owed him a break, and that became a liability.

In 1994, Kerry was suspicious that one of his customers had been cheating him: paying him for crack rock, then breaking off a piece of it with her fingernail and then complaining that what he sold her was too small and demanding a refund. Once she even called the cops on him.

Eventually she tried this in front of other dealers and customers, and the two got into an argument that got physical.

"They put their hands on me," Kerry says, "and hit me on the back of the head, and that set the alarm off." While two other dealers held the woman down, Kerry stabbed her in the back, then ran away and left the woman to die alone in the street.

He was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to 26 years in prison.

***

In early 2018, while Nipsey Hussle's Victory Lap was topping the charts, Kerry was anxiously awaiting the results of a parole hearing. While in prison, he had become a model for rehabilitation. He underwent anger management, drug treatment programs and most importantly according to transcripts from his hearing victim's awareness training, which gave him insight into the impact of his crime. He also got his education in prison: certificates in mechanical drawing, cabinetry and drywall.

But still, he had reason to be nervous. His appeal for early parole had been denied once before. As he waited in the hallway while the parole board made their deliberations, he tried to comfort some of the other inmates up for parole, to ease his own nerves.

"Looking down the hallway and looking at people who just came out of the room that I was in, crying, and I say, 'Look man, come here, you don't have to cry. All you have to do is understand yourself. Go deep. Find your freedom. Because it's not in here,' " Kerry recalls.

This time the parole judges decided Kerry had earned his freedom, and in September 2018 he was finally released. At that moment, he became one of 4.5 million people on probation or parole in the United States twice the number of people currently incarcerated. About a third of those people on probation or parole are Black.

Life on parole in California comes with a lot of rules: Your residence can be searched at any time. You can't use a knife with a blade longer than two inches unless you're in a kitchen. You can't travel more than 50 miles without first notifying your parole officer. Kerry says he wasn't even allowed to go into corner stores that sell liquor. "Everything ... right is wrong. That's how clearly you could say it."

Kerry also had to agree to be entered into a gang database, so he had to observe "no go zones" places he could and couldn't go at different times of the day and rules about who he was allowed to be with. That meant that technically, Kerry couldn't be around Lisa, or at least two of his children.

"His daughter is in prison," Lisa says. "So when she comes home, she's a parolee. He's a parolee. How are they going to see each other? 'Cause they both of them in violation. ... Nine times out of 10, either you got a criminal record or somebody that you know has a criminal record."

Kerry was out, but with so many rules and such heavy consequences for breaking them, he felt like he was walking on eggshells. One in five people entering prison in the U.S. today is there for a parole violation.

Kerry and Lisa felt that they couldn't rely on the parole system. But Lisa knew of someone they could look to for help. And she says that despite never having met her or Kerry, Nipsey Hussle didn't hesitate to help Kerry when she reached out.

"They gave him hoodies. They gave him shirts, socks, tees, underwear, everything somebody getting out of prison might need," she says.

Here you have two men: Kerry, who had caused harm long ago and spent two decades wrestling with remorse, trying to make good and change his life. And Nipsey, who turned neighborhood-wide trauma into music, and that music into opportunities for his hood. Those paths both led to the parking lot in front of Marathon Clothing on March 31, 2019, where one of them ended.

Before Nipsey was born, before Kerry joined the Rollin 60s, law enforcement was figuring out a way to track people all over California.

Wes McBride is a former sergeant in the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. He's retired now, but back in the 1970s he patrolled East L.A., home to a large part of the city's Hispanic population and gangs like the Marianna and the Juarez. McBride says that every time they approached someone they thought might be a gang member, officers would fill out something they called a "field interview report."

"You use it any time you stop somebody and he's up to no good, but you can't prove anything," McBride says. So officers would take down suspected gang members' names and descriptions of their vehicles, for potential use in relation to future investigations.

In the late 1970s, McBride helped to create a gang database to standardize about a dozen criteria from these field interview reports, things like location, affiliates, tattoos, even dress. If a person met just two of the criteria, they went in the database, even if they hadn't committed a crime. That database would come to be known as CalGang.

Today, McBride insists the system does not amount to racial profiling, even though police are designating individuals for inclusion in CalGang based on preconceived notions.

"I worked East L.A. Ninety-nine percent of everybody in East L.A. is Hispanic. Uh, we didn't have any other races to pick on, you know, to stop," he says. "And the same you go down to South L.A. it's all Black population. I don't make you a gang member. You make yourself a gang member with your attitude, your dress and your actions. If you want to be a gang member, you're a gang member."

Nipsey had firsthand experience with this kind of profiling. In a 2013 interview he told Combat Jack that police would "come through and get to know you. ... They'd come hop out, ask you questions, take your name, your address, your cell phone number, your social, when you ain't done nothing. Just so they know everybody in the hood."

By 2018, there were more than 100,000 people catalogued in CalGang's database. It's become standardized, used by law enforcement across the state, even federal departments. But in 2016, an audit of the database confirmed a slew of problems. People had been entered into the system without a reason. Babies under the age of one were included because of "admitting to being gang members."

There's a state law that requires anyone who has gone five years without adding anything to their record be removed from CalGang, but the audit also showed that for hundreds of people, that had not happened.

Sean Garcia-Leys, a former senior staff attorney at the Urban Peace Institute, has represented dozens of people who say CalGang infringed upon their civil liberties.

"Almost all of my clients, even the ones who are gang involved, should have been purged but for a traffic stop at some point where they were pulled over for running a stoplight or something like that, and the officer noticed that they had a tattoo even if it's a 20-year-old tattoo and that stop was then used to restart their five-year purge date," he says.

Garcia-Leys says Nipsey satisfied a lot of the criteria that could land somebody in CalGang, from his tattoos to law enforcement's suspicion that Marathon Clothing was a front for gang activity. Hypothetically, every time he went there, he could have his five-year clock restarted. But because until recently CalGang was a confidential database, there was no way to know if his name has been purged or not, or if you were ever in to begin with. All public information requests we made to the LAPD to find out whether Nipsey was in CalGang were denied.

***

About a week after the shooting, Kerry Lathan was released from the hospital, and he moved into a halfway house for parolees. Still recovering, he was wheelchair bound and in a lot of pain when parole officers showed up not to see how Kerry's doing or to offer support or help, but to arrest him for violating his parole.

"They said 'Gang affiliation,' and I took out the newspaper. It said, 'Nipsey Hussle: A Voice of Peace,' and I said, 'So, y'all [gonna] send me back to prison for talking to a voice of peace? Y'all crazy,' " Kerry says.

Months later, Kerry still didn't understand exactly what happened. So we asked the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the agency that oversees his parole, what rule Kerry broke. Via email, a spokesperson declined to answer, citing privacy concerns. But they said they could confirm one thing: The violation was "unrelated to the Nipsey Hussle incident."

We now know that this was a lie.

According to Kerry's parole violation report, which was obtained by NPR, parole officers interviewed Kerry at least two times while he was in the hospital, both by phone and in person. Officers cited several ways Kerry violated his parole, all stemming from the "incident in connection with the shooting death of Rapper Nipsey Hussle."

In making their case that Kerry should be arrested, the officers noted that Kerry had admitted to associating with Nipsey Hussle in those minutes before the shooting. Parole officers cited departmental resources used to confirm "that Nipsey Hussle is a documented Rollin 60s Crip gang member." According to the report the officers searched Kerry's phone and found a photo of Kerry at a strip club with two other men that officers say are "flashing" gang signs.

We asked Bruce Western, the co-director of Columbia University's Justice Lab, to read Kerry's violation report. Western studies the sociological impact of life lived on parole, and he pointed out that a group of 50-year-old men displaying gang signs might not currently be involved in criminal activity.

"It's very subjective to make that leap," he says.

In 2017, more than a third of parolees locked up in California were there because of a technical parole violation, not for committing a crime. Western says that can make people feel like they've been set up to fail.

"The person on parole only has limited control over whether or not they are going to come back into contact with the system," Western says. "If they live in a heavily policed community, the likelihood is that they will come back into contact. The system, in many cases, wants to have contact with you."

The officers took Kerry back to jail, but after media attention on his case and a petition with 20,000 signatures, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reversed his parole violation. After spending 12 days locked up, Kerry was released.

But here's what's scary to think about: If Kerry's violation had occurred because he'd been talking to any other alleged gang member besides Nipsey Hussle, he'd likely still be in jail.

Recently, there has been some effort to reform the system. In the last year, multiple LAPD officers have been criminally charged for inputting false information into CalGang, and the LAPD finally conducted an internal investigation that led, this summer, to police chief Michel Moore declaring that the department would quit using the database permanently. None of the data that the LAPD has entered into CalGang can be used by any other law enforcement agency ever again. But other law enforcement agencies in California can still access and update the database themselves.

Both Kerry and Nipsey were trying to work within the system, trying to play by its rules to improve themselves and their hood. Nipsey reached out to the cops, who delayed their meeting because they saw him as a gang member. Kerry reached out to Nipsey for help and it landed him back in jail. The way the system works, it's almost like it wants to make sure people like Nipsey and Kerry aren't working to help each other.

***

Nipsey Hussle's mantra was "The Marathon Continues," and depending on where you sit, that never-ending pursuit of a dream can be inspiring or exhausting.

December 19 will mark Kerry's one-year anniversary in his Long Beach rehabilitation center. He's got a piece of a bullet lodged in his back. He is coping with the effects of his stroke and still cannot walk. He told us he got COVID-19 earlier this year and is recovering. He says that when he finally gets out, he wants to find residence in public housing where his daughter and grandchildren can visit him. He will live the rest of his life under the strict regulations of a parolee.

Lisa P is a registered paralegal, and is writing a book about the history of the Rollin 60s called Orphans of the Revolution, Story of a Rollin Sixlett. She says she has found a publisher and is working to release it in 2021.

"I just want to see something different before I leave here. I don't have a lot of time ... and I just really want to see a change in my community," she says. "I can make it that."

This story consists of material published within an episode of the NPR Music podcast Louder Than A Riot. It includes editing and reporting by Adelina Lancianese, Dianne Lugo, Dustin DeSoto, Matt Ozug, Michael May and Jacob Ganz.

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Mind of Mike: Thoughts on Auburn firing Malzahn – Rivals.com12.14.20

The Mind of Mike is a dangerous place. Here are the latest thoughts from Rivals National Director Mike Farrell about the firing of Gus Malzahn and more coaching news over the weekend.

Lets start with this. Its about time. Despite some success at Auburn, watching talent being wasted on the offensive side of the football was getting old. Malzahns gimmicky offense worked with Cam Newton and Nick Marshall but when it was attempted with a passing quarterback like Jarrett Stidham and Bo Nix it was a disaster.

Malzahn was somewhat successful at Auburn with his 67-35 record but he was very average in the SEC at 38-26 and his teams often played down to opponents. Yes, he led the team to the national title game as a second-year head coach and beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl but it wasnt enough.

When youre compared with Alabama in-state and then LSU outpaces you in the SEC West while Texas A&M and others seem to have a brighter future, its time to go. This season was a disaster and Auburn should have lost to Ole Miss and Arkansas in addition to its bad losses to Alabama and especially South Carolina.

Malzahn did a solid job recruiting but it was very up and down and 2021 has been rough. The Auburn class has zero, thats right zero, recruits from the state of Georgia a few days from National Signing Day and is outside the national top 50. Key losses recently to teams such as Florida, Alabama and others have stung badly and this appears to be a small class that will struggle to make a big impact.

Malzahns first class finished eighth in 2013 and and he was ninth in 2014. He followed that up with two more top 10 classes in 2015 and 2016 but took a step back in 2017 with the 14th-rated class and No. 6 class in the SEC. He hasnt finished higher than 10th since then and as I said, 2021 is bad.

Malzahn has some big recruiting wins over his tenure bringing Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and Byron Cowart in with obvious different levels of success. He had success in Florida especially when Will Muschamp and Tarvaris Robinson were on staff but that didnt last long.

In-state recruiting was rough as Jameis Winston, Justyn Ross and George Pickens headed out of state and of course Alabama clobbered him in-state each year. Player development at Alabama was also much better especially on offense.

The hiring of Chad Morris wasnt a great call by Malzahn and theyve done some odd recruiting in Texas this year where they wont have lasting success.

Linebacker Reuben Foster is perhaps his most famous recruiting loss and the five-star linebacker committed to Auburn and got an Auburn tattoo only to flip to Alabama late. But lately Auburn hasnt been in it for bigger names like that and with ever successful recruit like Tank Bigsby there are others that simply flopped under Malzahn.

You know things were bad when a $21 million buyout doesnt stop Auburn from firing him in a global pandemic with massive economic repercussions.

So whos next? Kevin Steele is the interim coach and will get a look. It will be interesting to see if Auburn has any interest in Will Muschamp, as he had success recruiting there but that should never happen.

Hugh Freeze, Billy Napier, Tony Elliott, Brent Venables and others should be near the top of the list and pie in the sky would be Mario Cristobal or someone who has proven they can recruit. Dan Quinn and Bill OBrien are former NFL head coaches to consider as well.

The Malzahn news overshadows the firings of Kevin Sumlin at Arizona and Lovie Smith at Illinois or the retention of Tom Herman at Texas this weekend. Neither Arizona nor Illinois will be fishing in the same coaching pond as Auburn.

Sumlin and Smith lost, and lost a lot, and neither had this amazing buyout. Malzahn is the biggest firing so far, which includes Muschamp at South Carolina. With a lot of great candidates out there, this is the time to make a home run hire.

All in all, Malzahn and his quirky offensive ways started off great at Auburn as he was given more credit for the national title than Gene Chizik in 2010 and led the team back to the title game four years later. But since then its been frustrating to watch Auburn on offense, especially the Stidham and Nix years.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH AUBURN FANS AT AUBURNSPORTS.COM

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