Facts first: Rogers Park alderman circulates false claims about CWB reporting, refuses to set the record straight

Chicago — Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) circulated false information about a CWBChicago news report on social media Wednesday. Her chief of staff refused to correct the posts even after being provided with detailed evidence that the alderman was wrong. A recently-elected member of the Rogers Park (24th) District Police Council circulated Hadden’s false information online, too. They have not removed or corrected their post, either.

Usually, things like this are worked out with a message or a phone call. Unfortunately, Hadden’s office and the new police council member, Veronica Arreola, don’t appear to be interested in setting the record straight. So, we’ll do that now.

Ald. Maria Hadden. | Sarah-Ji Rhee/Flickr/Wikicommons

This morning, a little after 4 a.m., we posted a brief report about a 20-year-old woman who Chicago police said had been grazed by a bullet in the 1300 block of West Columbia. Here’s the relevant part of what we published:

A 20-year-old woman suffered a graze wound to her back when shots rang out as she entered her Rogers Park apartment building overnight, Chicago police said. The victim is a student at Loyola University, according to her social media accounts.

The woman was walking up the stairs of the building in the 1300 block of West Columbia when shots were fired outside around 1:01 a.m., Chicago police said. At least one of the bullets flew into the apartment building, and the woman suffered a minor injury to her back, police said.

Chicago Fire Department personnel treated her at the scene, but she was not transported to a hospital.

The sources for our report were an alert published by the Chicago Police Department on its Media Major Incident Notifications (MINS) site and the woman’s social media accounts, including her Instagram, which includes too much identifiable information to include here, and her LinkedIn profile. Here’s what those looked like (We’ve redacted some identifying information):

The Chicago Police Department Media Major Incident Notification entry (left) and a portion of the woman’s LinkedIn page. | Chicago Police Department; LinkedIn

At 9:54 a.m., Hadden posted the following to her ward’s Facebook page, and shared it with a Rogers Park news page:

Contrary to Hadden’s post, our reporting never said the woman had been shot in the shoulder. Our story has always said that the Chicago Police Department said the woman received a graze wound to her back and she was treated at the scene by the fire department.

That’s from the police department’s official statement, which you saw for yourself above. And we cited CPD in our reporting. As of 7 p.m., the police department has not changed its media statement regarding the incident.

Next: Our story did not say the woman was a Loyola University student as Hadden claims. The report very clearly states that the woman’s social media accounts said she is a student at the school.

During a phone call with Hadden’s office this afternoon, a woman who identified herself as Hadden’s chief of staff told CWBChicago’s managing partner that she believed we added the part attributing the Loyola information to the woman’s social media accounts after Hadden’s Facebook post.

Ain’t that something?

Of course, by saying that, she implicitly agreed that citing the social media accounts is a pertinent part of the report — one that proves Hadden’s post to be false. She needed a way to make Hadden’s statement true, and the only way for that to happen would be to accuse us of revising the story.

“She has a lot of brass,” grandma would’ve said.

For the record, here’s a tweet we sent, timestamped at 4:15 a.m. that disputes both of Hadden’s wrongful assertations: It (and the story) said the woman was grazed, not shot in the shoulder, and it said the woman’s social media accounts say she is a Loyola student.

Hadden claims “no one was struck.” The Chicago Police Department said—and still says—a woman was grazed. Hadden said we reported that the victim was a Loyola student. We reported that that’s what her social media said.

Hadden said Loyola University police were at the scene and “confirmed that the previously reported information was incorrect.” But Loyola police aren’t handling the case. Chicago police are.

We contacted Loyola’s press office to learn exactly what the school’s police department told Hadden. They did not respond. For the heck of it, we called Loyola’s registrar’s office for “directory information” to see if the woman is an active student. The school refused to say.

The woman who identified herself as Hadden’s chief of staff said she would give our managing partner’s phone number to Hadden. Hadden has not called.

As for Veronica Arreola, the newly-elected member of the newly-formed Rogers Park District Police Council, a group that is supposed to “build mutual trust” between police and the community, we’d suggest that misinforming the public about a police matter is not a good way to start.

Update March 30: Here are links to NBC Chicago’s reporting and Fox Chicago’s reporting of the incident.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com