Race and poverty roundup: Trayvon Martin, 'Hoodies and Hijabs' rallies, IL Senate blocks Crete detention center, and more...,

What’s moving in the world of race and poverty, on Chicago Muckrakers weekly.

The killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin has set off a debate on race, hoodies, lobbyists, guns, and “Stand Your Ground” legislation around the country, one that has culminated in four seperate rallies in Trayvon’s honor in the past week in Chicago. Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush was removed from the state House floor Wednesday for wearing a hoodie.

The garment, traditionally a symbol of dispossesed youth, has become a rallying cry for supporters of Trayvon Martin. The incident also set off discussions of whether bringing his killer, George Zimmerman, into the criminal justice system would bring true justice.

The beating death of an Iraqi American woman in California added fuel to rising concerns over racism and violence. The murder of Shaima Alawadi, who wore the traditional Islamic headscarf, has sparked “Hoodies and Hijabs” rallies across the country in efforts to publicize and link Alawadi’s murder with that of Martin’s to underscore a growing problem.

In Chicago, the city has seen a spate of shootings. The third weekend of March saw a record 40 shootings, with 10 deaths, and the shooting of an unarmed 22-year-old woman, Rekia Boyd, by an off-duty Chicago police officer has also set off a nerve in the city that has become infamous for its youth shooting deaths. 

The Illinois Senate passed a measure Wednesday to prohibit all privately run detention centers in the state. Since 1990, Illinois has banned state and local governments from working with private companies to run and build correctional facilities The Senate’s bill extends that to civil detention centers. Corrections Corporation of America plans to partner with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a proposed 700-bed federal facility in Crete to house immigration detainees.

“Cook County government is making money off people who are locked up in the county jail,” according a WBEZ exposé. Through substantial fees payed by individuals arrested, regardless of whether they are eventually found guilty, Cook County makes millions of dollars each year.

As the Supreme Court heard arguments this week over the constitutionality of President Obama’s 2010 healthcare legislation, Illinois sat on the sidelines awaiting a ruling, reports Nick Moroni of The Chicago Reporter. Under the law, states are required to create state-run health exchanges but they’re not going to do that while the federal law is in some limbo.

Meanwhile, there continue to be stark differences in the level of health among the country’s different races. A study reported by the Chicago Reader found that “racial disparities in the U.S. remain broad and persistent. Blacks continue to suffer the most severe and broadest range of health disadvantages.” The study also found that the biggest cause of the gap in health is socioeconomic differences. 

The United States is the only country in the world that sentences juveniles to life in prison without the chance of parole, a report by the Sentencing Project details in the report “The Lives of Juvenile Lifers.”

A bill making its way through the Illinois house seeks to expand the types of convictions that can be sealedA proposal in the 2013 presidential budget to raise the minimum rent in public housing could put the poorest families at risk of ending up on the street, say advocates. And what may be most surprising for some people: Pres. Obama’s proposed hike is more than what’s being asked for by the Republicans. Plus, it pitted two local pols against each other over this issue in Washington.

The Chicago Reported did a run-down of who has reason to celebrate, and who doesn’t, after last week’s primary elections. The highly touted progressive Ilya Sheyman lost in the 10th Congressional District, while Jesse L. Jackson Jr. coasted to victory in the 2nd Congressional District. And, in the Republican primary, Mitt Romney emerged the victor. Read the rest of the results here. 

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