40 Years In 40 Days: 1997 Headlines
In 1997, three white teenagers in Bridgeport beat a 13-year-old African American boy into a coma while shouting racial epithets. His name was Lenard Clark, and he was walking by Armour Square Park when the trio attacked. The three attackers were later sentenced to prison for attempted murder and hate crimes.
Another attack on a 9-year-old girl was so brutal, she was only known as Girl X. A neighbor would be charged and sentenced to 120 years in prison for the rape, beating and poisining of Girl X, who was left to die in a stairwell of Cabrini Green.
Also in 1997, a prominent real estate developer, Lee Miglin, was murdered in the Gold Coast. His killer, Andrew Cunanan, would be blamed for two murders in Minnesota and the slaying of the fashion designer Gianni Versace in Miami.
Other Chicago news in ’97:
- Francis George became the new archbishop of the Chicago’s Catholic church
- Governor Jim Edgar announced he was retiring after two terms, setting off a major scramble in both parties for a spot in that office and the US Senate. At the same time, City Council floor leader Alderman Pat Huels resigned after being charged with taking a $1 million loan from a company he helped win a city subsidy.
- Rather than share the anchor desk with Jerry Springer, Carol Marin and Ron Magers left Channel Five
- Princess Diana died in a car accident after being chased by the paparazzi through Paris. Her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, and driver were also killed. This sparked a re-assessment of celebrity press coverage and a global round of mourning.
- British author J.K. Rowling wroter her first novel, a children’s story about an orphan named Harry Potter who learns he’s a wizard, attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and teams up with Ron Weasley and Hermoione Granger to discover why Snape and Voldemort are out to get him. It was “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” the first in a seven-part series.