Chicago prosecutor in Laquan McDonald case defeated for re-election
Cook County state's attorney Anita Alvarez has been soundly defeated in her bid for re-election. Alvarez was caught up in the controversy over the killing of unarmed teen Laquan McDonald, who died in 2014 when shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer. She refused to prosecute the officer for more than a year and relented only when a shocking video of the incident was ordered released by a judge.
Alvarez, who was the first Hispanic and woman to hold the office, had faced deep scrutiny since the court-ordered release nearly four months ago of the 2014 shooting that showed a white Chicago Police officer, Jason Van Dyke, pump 16 shots into the body of McDonald, who was African-American.
Alvarez announced first-degree murder charges against Van Dyke on the same day the video was released.
But because her office took 400 days to announce the charges and resisted public release of the video, there was widespread outrage in the African-American community. Protesters, who took to the streets for near-daily protests in the week after video’s release, called for her resignation as well as that of Mayor
Both refused and Alvarez promised to continue her fight. But the incident sparked a
U.S. Justice Departmentcivil rights investigation of the Chicago Police Department. Emanuel also decided to oust his police superintendent Garry McCarthy.
The presence of McDonald, who had been in and out foster care and suffered from mental health issues, loomed large during this political season in Chicago. Foxx used a portion of the dashcam video in an attack ad against Alvarez. Yard signs expressing love for McDonald dotted lawns and fields alongside signage promoting political candidates in the city's predominantly
African-American neighborhoodson the city's West and South Sides.
Last month, a coalition of politicians and activists petitioned the Cook County Circuity Court to appoint a special prosecutor to take over the case against Van Dyke.
It's rare that a machine politician like Alvarez loses an election. But the break with the African-American community deprived Alvarez of a large segment of her base, insuring that her opponent, Kim Foxx, would coast to victory. She won going away, 57-29%.
Even more unpopular in the city is Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who apparently squelched the release of the damning McDonald video during his re-election campaign. Emanuel has so far resisted calls for his resignation, but his power and influence are ebbing, as his approval number is in the mid-20s.
With the city in the midst of a budget crisis and an escalating crime rate, Emanuel has no room to manuever. His growing unpopularity and the distrust in the minority community of his leadership threaten to paralyze the city just when real leadership is needed.
This is not going to end well.