Justice

Black Lives Matter Scores Political Victory As Chicago Ousts Its Top Prosecutor

CREDIT: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, right, listens to the remarks of Yolan Corner, a victim of a violent crime, during a news conference Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in Chicago.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has covered up police killings, condemned the innocent, and doomed children to the school-to-prison pipeline. But on Tuesday, Chicago area voters said that they’ve had enough.

Alvarez lost her bid for a third term to Kim Foxx, a former assistant state’s attorney and a candidate backed by activists from the Black Lives Matter movement. Activists turned the local race into a crucial battle to unseat the controversial top prosecutor who has mishandled cases involving police brutality and allowed miscarriages of justice against men and women of color in Chicago.

The controversy surrounding the shooting of Laquan McDonald was perhaps the most high-profile of Alvarez’s recent failures as state’s attorney. Despite evidence and dashcam footage that showed that the police officer shot McDonald 16 times, Alvarez covered up the incident for more than a year and did not bring charges until less than a day before the video was released to the public. And she still refuses to acknowledge her mistakes.

Alvarez has also refused to reopen the cases of people who are likely innocent, criminalized people for recording officers, and bullied college students who were critical of her office. And she has funneled thousands of black and Latino Chicago Public School students into the juvenile justice system. She also led a crusade against a Chicago-area Innocence Project, subpoenaing students and refusing to acknowledge evidence of an inmate’s innocence. That man, Anthony McKinney, died in prison in 2013.

Foxx, meanwhile, secured endorsements from prominent Illinois politicians including Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. She has said she understands the importance of transparency and accountability, and believes reducing incarceration rates and eliminating the school-to-prison pipeline will be critical for ending the cycle of crime and poverty in African American communities.