Coalitions of young people from activist organizations like Assata’s Daughters, BYP100, and Black Lives Matter, Chicago have been demonstrating against Cook County State Attorney Anita Alvarez for years now. Their efforts reached a fever pitch in the weeks following the November 2015 release of footage of the murder of LaQuan McDonald on October 20, 2014. Their concerns were stemming from the facts that it took Alvarez over a year to release the footage after she grossly mishandled the case from its start.
Today, Feb 24, these young organizers demonstrated at The City Club in Downtown Chicago where Alvarez planned to have a campaign fundraiser. During their act of disruption, organizers could be heard yelling, “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Anita Alvarez has got to go!” and “16 shots!” The latter phrase has become the rallying cry for many young people (including local high school students) who are drawing attention to the fact that McDonald was shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke, killing him instantly.
A video of today’s demonstration — from Progress Illinois — shows the young activists being shoved by several men including a man who several activists identified as Alvarez’s Chief of Staff.
A similar coalition disrupted a presentation at University of Chicago last week at the Institute of Politics where Alvarez had been speaking for only 20 minutes. They shifted the focus to their demands and away from the campaign rhetoric Alvarez had planned for the event.
The young activists have also released a statement regarding their actions against Alvarez and their demands go-forward. The full statement reads:
Today, black youth organizers in Chicago are disrupting a fundraiser for Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez hosted by the City Club of Chicago. We will not be silent while the Chicago business and political elite continue to support Alvarez, who has presided over the “false confession capital” while protecting murderous CPD officers, agents of one of the most violent police forces in the world.
Anita Alvarez is responsible for protecting law enforcement officers that extinguish the voices and lives of Black people. By refusing to prosecute officers that kill, abuse, and sexually assault Black people, Alvarez encourages a culture of exceptionally lawless policing.
As young Black voters, it is our duty to disrupt politics as usual because American democracy is killing us and asking us to remain silent while doing so.
Alvarez is one of the nation’s most notoriously corrupt prosecutors. While in office, she has locked up survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, hyper-criminalized black people to keep them under state surveillance, filled cook county correctional facilities with women and men awaiting trial for mostly non-violent crimes, failed to investigate police wrongdoings, and defended wrongful convictions. Anita Alvarez must go.
The egregiously poor handling of the killing of 17 year old LaQuan McDonald who was shot 16 times by police officer Van Dyke is just one of the most recent examples of Anita’s horrible record. Alvarez waited 400 days to indict Van Dyke, preferring to sweep the case under the rug to protect the CPD. We know that individuals alone are not responsible for systemic injustice and that only the complete and total destruction of policing, prisons and anti-blackness will amount to justice for LaQuan, for Rekia Boyd, and for the other victims of Anita Alvarez’s time in office and of state violence writ large. However, Anita Alvarez needs to be held accountable for her severely violent actions while in the role of State’s Attorney and therefore needs to be unseated. We will continue to urge that Anita Alvarez must go.
We reiterate our demands: as a means to secure safer futures for Black people we demand the end to cash bail. We demand an investigation of the State’s Attorney office for extensive cover-ups of police crimes. We demand an end to all mandatory minimum sentencing in Cook County. We demand the defunding and ultimate closing of the Cook County juvenile detention center and Cook County jail. We want a redirection of funds saved to support mental health clinics; housing for youth, homeless and nearly homeless; jobs for young people and the unemployed; fully funded schools and crisis centers.
We believe that our demands cannot be met with the current State’s Attorney administration, so we ask that voters throughout Cook County show up to vote March 15th and vote against Anita Alvarez for the office of State’s Attorney.
With Alvarez seeking reelection next month, some have been throwing their support behind her rival Kim Foxx. The Chicago Teachers Union is the latest group to endorse Foxx.
It remains to be seen how these actions and endorsements will influence the upcoming election.
(Photo: Monica Trinidad/Twitter)