Cook County voters at the polls March 15 voiced their opinions on more than the presidential candidates. The democratic campaign for Cook County state attorney has become highly focused on police accountability after protests organized by Black Lives Matter Chicago, Assata’s Daughters, and the Black Youth Project 100 took to the streets in November and December with the hashtag #ByeAnita. Protesters were responding to current Cook County state attorney Anita Alvarez’s controversial handling of the Laquan McDonald case.
In October 2014, Officer Jason Van Dyke shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times from about ten feet away. McDonald was armed with a knife. Officer Van Dyke was one of eight officers on the scene, but the only one to fire his weapon. If this seems like old news, it might be had Alvarez’s office not waited over a year to charge Van Dyke, squeezing the announcement in hours before the public release of the night’s dashcam video. The video was made public after a judge approved a Freedom of Information Act request. Alvarez cited complications in the case and said the FOIA request simply moved up her timeline for the already decided first-degree murder charge. We’re skeptical.
Although this shooting relates directly to the larger conversation around training and the culture of police departments, the protests in question also brought to the forefront allegations of a cover up of police misconduct by Chicago city officials. The protests of the fall turned into winter’s political organizing around the Kim Foxx campaign.
Former prosecutor Kim Foxx grew up in Cabrini-Green, a well-known public housing project in Chicago. She spent 12 years as Assistant State’s Attorney and built her campaign around reform of the criminal justice system, including providing treatment for low-level drug offenders instead of jail time and overturning wrongful convictions.
Her platform spoke to voters because at final count, Foxx won almost 58 percent of the vote, with Anita cashing in only 29 percent. Christopher Pfannkuche is running uncontested on the Republican ballot for Cook County state’s attorney. #ByeAnita is still used in conversations around disrupting the establishment in Chicago. Stay tuned for the general election this November 8 to watch the trajectory of Foxx’s campaign.