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Over the course of several months, thousands took to the streets and social media to bid Anita Alvarez farewell. (Photo: @BaburRealer/Twitter)

#ByeAnita: State's Attorney Ouster is Victory for Chicago Grassroots

'We did this for Rekia. We did this for Laquan.'

Deirdre Fulton

Black organizers and grassroots campaigners in Chicago scored a major victory on Tuesday night, when Cook County voters ousted two-term state's attorney Anita Alvarez and elected former prosecutor Kim Foxx as her replacement.

Alvarez, along with Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, was among the top city officials accused of covering up the police killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. She also faced deep criticism for failing to properly investigate police officers charged with misconduct, contributing to mass incarceration, and presiding over a broken, racist criminal justice system.

After McCarthy was fired in December, community organizers set their sights on ejecting Emanuel and Alvarez, with the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) saying at the time, "They have demonstrated a deep ineptitude to exercise compassion and good judgment as leaders and should not be trusted to make decisions that impact our lives."

What followed was a sustained grassroots campaign, marked by protests, direct actions, voter outreach, and the #ByeAnita hashtag on Twitter.

In a statement Tuesday, Assata's Daughters, an inter-generational collective of radical Black women in Chicago that helped lead the #ByeAnita campaign, credited Chicago Black youth with Alvarez's departure. "Just a month ago, Anita Alvarez was winning in the polls," the group said. "Communities who refuse to be killed and jailed and abused without any chance at justice refused to let that happen."

"We did this for Rekia," Assata's Daughters said, referring to Rekia Boyd, a Black woman who was fatally shot by Dante Servin, an off-duty Chicago police detective, in 2012. Activists say Alvarez failed to appropriately charge Servin, who was cleared of charges in 2015.

And, the group continued, "We did this for Laquan."

The collective vowed to hold Foxx—who was highly critical throughout her campaign of how Alvarez handled the McDonald case—accountable. "We won't stop until we're free," they wrote, "and Kim Foxx should know that as well."

Rashad Robinson, executive director of the online civil rights organization Color of Change, cheered the win, declaring in a statement that Alvarez's ouster would end "nearly a decade of corruption and over-prosecution in our communities."

"As Chicago's lead prosecutor," he said, "Alvarez covered up police shootings; she over-charged thousands of youth, some as young as 10 years old; and she failed to prosecute corrupt cops for their misconduct."

Of Foxx, Robinson continued: "As an attorney with a proven track record of advocating for criminal justice reform, we hope her landslide victory will encourage more progressive, reform-minded candidates to run for prosecutor position with the knowledge that local communities and a national movement will stand with them."

Indeed, the National People's Action Campaign, which also supported the #ByeAnita effort, said the election outcome reflected how "independent political organizations are translating outrage and mass protest into action at the ballot box."

Now, the focus is back on Chicago's top dog: Emanuel, who has faced consistent calls to resign.

As Black Lives Matter Chicago wrote on Twitter late Tuesday night, "2 down, 1 to go."


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