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Protesters Pack County Building To Demand Anita Alvarez Resignation

By aaroncynic in News on Dec 3, 2015 9:00PM

Activists, clergy and community groups packed the George W. Dunne Cook County Office Building in the Loop Thursday morning demanding the resignation of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Chanting “1 down 2 to go” and “if she won’t go we’ll shut it down,” more than 100 people delivered crowded the lobby of the county building, where they delivered a petition signed by more than 35,000 people demanding her resignation.

Calls for Alvarez to step down as state’s attorney have been increasing the past two weeks in the wake of the release of the video showing Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times by officer Jason Van Dyke, who was charged last week with first degree murder.

“This is not about politics, it is to proclaim a need for the restoration of justice in Cook County,” said Rev. Michael Russell, President of Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL). “We believe her failure to enact swift justice on behalf of Laquan McDonald is yet just another example - the tip of the iceberg - in how she has failed in her role and should now step down. This office no longer has the community trust.”

Alvarez, however, said last week that she has no plans to step down, and offered no apologies for her handling of the case. "I am a professional prosecutor and I am not driven by politics," Alvarez told NBC5, adding:

"I will not be bullied by politicians who do not have a full understanding of the facts of this investigation. I offer no apologies for enlisting the FBI to investigate Laquan's murder because obviously the Chicago Police Department could not investigate themselves in this case.”

Despite the increased volume of chants for her resignation, community groups, activists and families of other Chicagoans killed by police have been calling for the ouster of Alvarez for years. In 2013, Alvarez failed to prosecute officer Gildardo Sierra, who shot and killed Flint Farmer in 2011. Sierra also fired 16 shots, seven of which struck Farmer. “Anita Alvarez has had a history of scandals attached to her tenure as State’s Attorney. This is just the most recent, and hopefully this will be the last,” said Katelyn Johnson of the group Action Now.

Maximillian Boykin, a member of Black Youth Project 100, highlighted the more than half a billion dollars that the city has paid out in settlements to victims of police violence.

“We are here today to make sure her office, which is paid by our tax dollars and that police department paid from our tax dollars is actually used to help fund black futures. Instead of cutting services - mental health, schools, child care, after school programs - those things that help our communities that have been taken away from us and used on the over $500 million that this city has paid off when police officers have done messed up things.”

***Update (4:07p.m.):

An angry Alvarez responded to today's rally and calls for her resignation by reiterating she would "not even consider" it. Speaking to reporters this afternoon, she called the accusations of a cover up in McDonald's death "horrific," and said that the way she's being portrayed by "seasoned politicians with political agendas is disgusting." In a video published by DNAinfo, Alvarez says:

"If Anita Alvarez wanted to whitewash a case, if Anita Alvarez was gonna look the other way, if Anita Alvarez wasn't going to do her job, and look at this case, and do the review for excessive force — let me think. Hmm. I'm going to conspire to you know whitewash this, to push it under the rug."

She also joined the chorus of calls for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the Chicago Police Department. "I know (Illinois) Attorney General (Lisa) Madigan made that request, and I join her in that," said Alvarez, according to the Chicago Tribune.