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Anita Alvarez Believes Protests Against Her Are A Political Ploy

By Emma G. Gallegos in News on Jan 5, 2016 5:00PM

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez discusses the shooting of Ronald Johnson by Chicago police officer George Hernandez on December 7, 2015. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The targets of protests over the death of Laquan McDonald have been wide-ranging: CPD Superintendent Garry McCarthy (who lost his job soon after the video of McDonald's death came out), the embattled mayor's office and the McDonald case's prosecutor, Anita Alvarez.

The Cook County State's Attorney, who is up for reelection, gave a wide-ranging interview to Chicago Magazine worth a full read. But a couple pieces stuck out—notably her unapologetic tone.

"I have no reason to resign," she says at one point. "I've done nothing wrong. I hold my head up high."

The video showing McDonald being gunned down by Jason Van Dyke wasn't released to the public for more than a year. Alvarez punts the question of the release to the city's mayor and aldermen: "When they reached that settlement [to pay the McDonald family $5 million] back in April, many of those aldermen who were critical of me now had the ability to release that video then and they didn’t do it."

As for waiting 396 days to bring charges against Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot McDonald? Alvarez admits that she wanted to bring charges before the release of the video, but she says that investigations into police shootings take time, and notes that the feds still haven't completed their end of the investigation: "I will not apologize for the meticulous, thorough investigation we did. As we sit here today, the United States attorney still has not finished his end of the investigation."

Demonstrators march around City Hall calling on Mayor Rahm Emanuel and State's Attorney Anita Alvarez to resign on December 11, 2015. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Perhaps the most fascinating part of the interview is that she believes the protests against her are little more than a political ploy:

I think what we’ve seen and what I’ve learned from some of these protesters showing up at my office is that they’re organized, and one of my political opponents is behind it, showing up with empty boxes claiming that there’s signatures of people in them. The boxes are empty, and giving us a flash drive claiming there’s thousands of signatures and 95 percent of them are not from Chicago. I think we have to keep in mind that I am in the middle of a reelection. I have two opponents. For people who are protesting who have a passion and have a cause that they want to protest, I have no problem with that. I just ask that the protests be peaceful. Some of these calls for my resignation are not coming from the average citizen. They’re coming from a political opponent and people who are supporting a political opponent. To me, you take that with a grain of salt.

She also says that she gets a lot of support when she's out and about running errands:

Despite what negative stories or what’s been transpiring the last month, I can’t tell you how many times I get stopped on the street. In fact, I won’t be able to walk from here to my car without somebody stopping and saying to me, “Do not resign. You hold your head up high. We support you.” Going to the grocery store, standing in line just to get my deli meats, people coming up to me saying, “You stand tall. You stand tall and we don’t agree with what’s happening to you.”

Alvarez will have a chance to prove she has Chicago's support in this March's Democratic primary.