Power of the Vote: Prosecutors Handling Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice Cases Lose Seats

By Sheryl Estrada

Tuesday’s presidential primary resulted in both Cook County, Illinois, prosecutor Anita Alvarez and Cuyahoga County, Ohio, prosecutor Timothy McGinty losing their seats. Citizens dissatisfied with their handling of police-related deaths of young Black males used their ballots to protest.

Laquan McDonald

#ByeAnita was trending on Twitter Tuesday night.

Alvarez, who came under fire after city officials waited 400 days to release video of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, lost to Kim Foxx who received 52.21 percent of the vote. Foxx is now the Democratic candidate in the race for Cook County’s top prosecutor and will compete against Republican Christopher Pfannkuche in November.

Related Story: Trust Broken: State’s Attorney Says No Mistakes Made in Laquan McDonald Investigation

Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times in October 2014. The release of video in November sparked massive protests in Chicago, gainingnational attention. More than a year had passed since McDonald’s death when Alvarez charged Van Dyke with murder, which only happenedbecause the government was forced to release thevideo of the shooting.

In February, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that within 60 days of a police shooting or incident of misconductthe Chicago Police Department will be required to release evidence, including videos.

Related Story: Chicago Police to Release Shooting Videos Within 90 Days

“I have been criticized that I wasn’t a very good politician. That’s probably right. That’s why I stand before you tonight. But I am very damn proud of the fact that I am a good prosecutor. I have been,” Alvarez said Tuesday night.

Many shared the outrage at how Alvarez handled the McDonald case. Chicago activist groupsorganized protests and a voter drive.

Assata’s Daughters, Black Lives Matter, Chicago, BYP100 and Fearless Leading by the Youth released a statement regarding Alvarez’ loss:

The #ByeAnita campaign celebrated last night. Not because Kim Foxx won, but because Anita Alvarez lost. Due to her essential role in the cover-up of Laquan McDonald’s murder, young black organizers relentlessly targeted Alvarez’s campaign for reelection in the final weeks. Not because we support Kim Foxx, but because Anita Alvarez is a prosecutor who has demonstrated that she does not believe Black Lives Matter. When we began to target Alvarez’s campaign she was ahead of her opponents in the polls. Last night, we saw the fruits of our labor manifest as Anita Alvarez conceded the Cook County state’s attorney race.

Celebrations were shared on social media. A video posted on Facebook shows a group ofChicagoans singing”Bye Anita, Bye Anita, Hey, Hey, Hey, Goodbye,” at a home gathering.

Activist and Baltimore mayoral candidate Deray Mckesson, who has conducted protests with Black Lives Matter, tweeted on Wednesday:

Tamir Rice

McGinty has been criticized by the family of Tamir Rice and the public for mishandling the investigation into the12-year-old’s shooting death by Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann. McGinty lost the Democratic primaryto former Assistant Prosecutor Michael O’Malley in a conclusive victory. O’Malleycapturedmore than55 percent of the vote.

“The voters have spoken,” McGinty said in a statement. “I wish [O’Malley] nothing but the best. I love the Prosecutor’s Office, and I am proud of all that we have accomplished and of all the outstanding dedicated professionals who work there.”

Related Story: No Indictment in Tamir Rice’s Murder

McGinty did not recommend charges against Loehmann or his partner, Officer Frank Garmback. Within two seconds of the officers arriving at the Cudell Rec Center on Nov. 22, 2014, rookie Loehmann shot Rice, who was playing with a toy pellet gun. Loehmann said hethought it was a real gun. The boydied the followingday.

A grand jury also declined to press charges against Loehmann and Garmback.

Samaria Rice, Rice’s mother, publicly criticized McGinty for how he conducted the case.

“I hoped things could have been different, but due to Prosecutor McGinty and his misconduct in handling Tamir’s case he failed to advocate for my son,” Ricesaid in an interviewwith NewsOne Now on Jan. 6.

Related Story: Cleveland Charges Tamir Rice’s Family for Rice’s Ambulance Ride

On Nov. 19, McGinty accused the Rice family of having“economic motives”when he was asked whether he’d step aside as Rice and her attorney requested a special prosecutor take over the case.

“They waited until they didn’t like the reports they received,” McGinty replied. “They’re very interesting people let me just leave it at that and they have their own economic motives.”

Related Story: Tamir Rice: A Year Since His Death and No Indictment

Rice family members and activistsdelivered a petitionto McGinty’s office on Nov. 23 calling for his removal from the case. The petition contained more than 100,000 signatures.

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