(CHICAGO) — A day after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel forced the city’s police superintendent to resign, the political fallout from the Laquan McDonald shooting threatens to linger amid ongoing discontent over how the city handled the case.
Chicago’s top cop Garry McCarthy was forced to step aside Tuesday before Emanuel told reporters McCarthy had “become an issue rather than dealing with the issue.”
Now, politicians and activists, including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, are asking for the resignation of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
Alvarez has come under fire for taking 400 days after McDonald’s shooting to file charges against Jason Van Dyke, the police officer who allegedly murdered the teen Oct. 20, 2014. Alvarez is also being criticized for keeping dash-cam video of the shooting under wraps until a court ordered its release.
The video was released last month after Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty.
“I think the way in which she’s run the office is disgraceful,” Preckwinkle said of Alvarez to reporters Monday. “Changing the leadership at the state’s attorney’s office is very important at this time.”
Preckwinkle is not alone in asking Alvarez to step down; several members of Chicago’s City Council’s black and Latino caucuses have also said they’re not pleased with how Alvarez responded to the McDonald case. Some activists claim letting go of McCarthy is not enough.
“The miscarriage of justice is obvious and undeniable,” Cook County Board Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia said in a news conference earlier this week. He was joined by four members of the City Council’s Latino caucus.
But Alvarez is not yielding to complaints. In a statement Monday, the prosecutor said she won’t be “bullied by politicians.”
“I am a professional prosecutor and I am not driven by politics,” Alvarez said. “I will not be bullied by politicians who do not have a full understanding of the facts of this investigation.”
Appearing on the public affairs TV series Chicago Tonight on Tuesday, mere hours after McCarthy’s firing was announced, she defended the way the McDonald case was handled and said she has “no intentions of resigning. The voters have voted me in twice, and I believe I have the confidence of the voters.”
Even if she doesn’t , Alvarez could still lose her job during the state’s attorney race next year.
“The voters of Cook County will have the opportunity to speak to my election but again, I was voted in to do what I believe is a very tough job,” the prosecutor, who has been elected twice, said Tuesday night. “I believe I have the confidence of the voters.”
But Alvarez’s campaign has already taken a hit, as U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., withdrew his endorsement, saying the delay in the McDonald case was inexcusable.
Alvarez’s top competitor in the Democratic primary for the race, coming up next spring, is Kim Foxx, Preckwinkle’s former chief of staff. Foxx has already been endorsed by Preckwinkle and other Democrats in the city.
The calls for Alvarez’s resignation come as Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan asked the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to investigate the Chicago Police Department.
In a statement released Tuesday, Madigan said the McDonald case “highlights serious questions about the use of unlawful and excessive force by Chicago police officers and the lack of accountability for such abuse.
“Trust in the Chicago Police Department is broken,” she said in the statement.
The Department of Justice only said it will review the letter Madigan sent.
In announcing McCarthy’s forced resignation, Emanuel, whom some critics also want to resign, said he had formed a five-person task force to oversee police accountability. The group will work to improve the independent oversight of police misconduct, deal with officers with repeated complaints and recommend the release of videos of police-involved incidents.
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