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Pressure builds on Alvarez, McCarthy

Monday, Nov 30, 2015

* Fran Spielman reports on Latino politicians who have turned against Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez

On Monday, vanquished mayoral challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and six of the City Council’s 10 Hispanic aldermen demanded that Alvarez resign for taking 13 months to charge a white Chicago Police officer with the first-degree murder of the African-American teenager.

“As we seek now to heal our city and our county, and as we as a society seek to enact long-overdue reforms of our criminal justice system, we need law enforcement officials who are honest, fair, and professional,” Garcia said.

“Too much is at stake to allow Anita Alvarez to continue in the position of Cook County state’s attorney, and accordingly, we call on her today to resign immediately.”

Joining Garcia at the news conference were four aldermen: Susie Salowski Garza (10th), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), Gilbert Villegas (36th) and Ricardo Muñoz (22nd). Two other Hispanic aldermen — Roberto Maldonado (26th) and Proco Joe Moreno (1st) — also joined the call for Alvarez’s resignation, but did not attend.

“Ms. Alvarez’s record as the county’s chief prosecutor has been replete with actions that show a disdain for restorative justice and a petty vindictiveness wholly inappropriate for her office.”

Alvarez’s office later issued a written response to the latest demand for her to leave:

“I am a professional prosecutor and I am not driven by politics. 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. And I certainly do not apologize for conducting a meticulous and thorough investigation to build the strongest possible First Degree Murder case against Officer Van Dyke.”

Garcia did not call for the resignation of Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, however, saying he wanted to let a Chicago city council hearing into the matter play out first.

* Meanwhile

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Monday called for State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to step down and for Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy to be ousted because of their handling of the investigation into the shooting of an African-American teen by a white Chicago police officer.

“I’ve had no confidence in (Alvarez’s) leadership for a very long time,” said Preckwinkle, who is backing her former chief of staff, Kim Foxx, over Alvarez in the March 15 Democratic primary election. “I think the way she has run the office is disgraceful.” […]

Preckwinkle said McCarthy either knew or should have known months ago that 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was not lunging at police when Officer Jason Van Dyke shot him 16 times in October 2014. […]

Alvarez released a statement saying she would not be “driven by politics” or “bullied by politicians who do not have a full understanding of the facts of this investigation.”

* And the Chicago Tribune, which has stubbornly defended McCarthy against aldermanic demands for his head, now wants an independent investigation

Who failed Chicago and how? That question demands an answer, not a scapegoat. It demands an investigation independent of the political stakeholders in the Police Department, the state’s attorney’s office or City Hall.

Since April, the U.S. attorney’s office has been conducting an investigation of the McDonald shooting. We don’t know the nature or scope of that investigation; we do know the feds have a formidable track record for prosecuting wrongdoing that other agencies have dismissed or discounted. This is the place for an investigation of all the circumstances around this shooting.

There will be no accountability until Chicagoans know the truth about what happened to Laquan McDonald — and about what happened next.

* Frankly, getting rid of Alvarez and McCarthy and investigating this particular cover-up isn’t gonna do much to change things if this story is true

If you did think an officer was lying, even in the most egregious cases where there was a dead suspect, reporting such behavior was met with severe consequences like taking cases away from young prosecutors, marginalization in the office and yelling and reprimand.

In my interviews with more than two dozen prosecutors and former prosecutors, they revealed that management did not support the attorneys who came forward; instead, they acted as henchmen at many levels of command, thwarting and even threatening whistle-blowers.

One prosecutor described a killing hauntingly reminiscent to the shooting death of LaQuan McDonald and how it may have played out if a prosecutor tried to investigate Officer Jason Van Dyke. As this assistant State’s Attorney explained:

    A police officer killed a guy and they said he was shooting at them at the time. I could tell that didn’t make much sense, but I put the blinders on. [I got conflicting stories from police officers that came in at two different times]. I told my supervisor, and he asked why I had had them come in separately (I hadn’t, they just came in that way) and told me that I should have them get together and straighten it out. He got mad at me. [I went up the chain of command with the complaint, and didn’t get a response]. One supervisor told me, “You’re a prosecutor, not a defense attorney.” One supervisor got so mad that he threw an ashtray against the wall and broke it. They wouldn’t let me see Daley (State’s Attorney and Former Chicago Mayor) about it. They took the case from me and gave it to another lawyer…

Go read the whole thing.

…Adding… State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago)…

To be effective, our outrage must be focused, our demands specific and sharp. Charging Jason Van Dyke with first-degree murder is not enough. There was a cover-up, and anyone involved in it must be held accountable. If we do not tear down the blue curtain of silence once and for all, Laquan McDonalds will continue to die in our city. We must never forget that the video – and the truth – were not simply handed to us. Instead, they were ripped from reluctant hands by journalists, citizens and the courts.

Policing reform legislation I co-sponsored this year provides a pathway to the appointment of a special prosecutor in cases such as this one. The law takes effect in January, and it must be used to help bring to justice rogue cops and those who cover for them. In the meantime, we need a fresh start. State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez must step down. She has failed in her responsibility to timely, openly prosecute a heinous crime that not only took a life but betrayed the public trust.

I am immensely proud of all who have protested peacefully in Chicago, and on Friday, I was honored to march alongside young people and veterans of the Civil Rights Movement alike on Michigan Avenue. I am more confident than ever that apathy and self-absorption will not succeed in suppressing the human bent toward basic fairness. Not only people of color, but all people who respect justice should be outraged and engaged, and that is the unity I have witnessed since the release of the video last week.

But if these protests do not result in top-to-bottom change, we will be here again – perhaps a month from now, maybe six months or a year from now. Our voices must not die away. We must not stand by while police officers act as judge, jury and executioner on our streets. We will remain united for justice.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

45 Comments
  1. - Downstate - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 2:45 pm:

    Wow! Based on that last item, people in the stat’s attorney office will be lucky if this thing ends with only Alvarez’s departure.


  2. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 2:55 pm:

    Alvarez sure could use a statement from the federales that they wanted her to hold off while they pursued their investigation.

    Think that’s going to happen?

    Are there other times she held off for weeks charging someone she suspected of murder because of the federales? A suspected murderer who stayed working in the CPD?


  3. - Arizona Bob - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 3:03 pm:

    For decades I’ve had people inside the SA office giving me info on dirty deals going on in that office, and the way back to the Hanranhan days and the Black Panther executions.

    My wife was on jury duty once where it was clear that police were lying about what a murder suspect had done. The ‘theory” to which they testified was clearly physically impossible, and the jury pretty much agreed that the police were lying.

    I won’t ev4een go into the way the SA office shields politically connected felons from corruption and fraud charges in bidding public work until the statute of limitations expire to keep the Feds from investigating.

    Feds won’t get involved in ongoing SA investigations. Funny thing. After years of SA “investigating”, they ended their investigation the week after the limitations expired.

    The Cook county “justice” system is anything but.

    I generally support the police, but this whole Van dyke deal stinks….


  4. - JoanP - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 3:05 pm:

    Ms. Van Cleve’s description of the culture in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office is no surprise. It is also not unique to Cook County. Assistants are expected to get high conviction rates so their bosses can tout those at election time. And it’s a lot easier to look past police perjury, to overcharge, to demand high sentences, if you view people as “mopes” rather than, well, as people.


  5. - Amalia - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 3:12 pm:

    Is Ms. Van Cleeve a lawyer? have not seen where her law degree is from, and her department appointment to law is a courtesy appointment, the sociology department her main home as a PhD in Sociology.


  6. - Just a squirrel trying to get a nut - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 3:23 pm:

    Two more fall on the sword for rahm who would not have been elected if this came out earlier.


  7. - Rich Miller - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 3:32 pm:

    ===who would not have been elected if this came out earlier===

    While I’m sure he wanted to avoid releasing the video no matter what, I do not think anyone in their right mind can say what would’ve happened with certainty if it had been released.


  8. - walker - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 3:34 pm:

    Rich at 3:32 +1


  9. - Georg Sande - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 3:35 pm:

    “Two out of three ain’t bad.” — Rahm Emanuel


  10. - Gooner - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 3:37 pm:

    For somebody who claims to have been aware of the problems in that office for a long time, Toni’s been remarkably quiet about it.

    Now that she’s got somebody in the race, she finally speaks up?

    Well, better late than never.


  11. - Amalia - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 3:40 pm:

    @Gooner, +1


  12. - illinoised - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 3:40 pm:

    Evidently the buck doesn’t stop at Emanuel ‘ s desk? He should do some explaining.


  13. - sigh - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 3:48 pm:

    I really want(ed) to like Alvarez. She could have had a brighter career in the Dem party (Latina, lawyer, etc.).


  14. - cdog - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 3:57 pm:

    Rahm Emanuel needs to ask for Alvarez and McCarthy to resign.
    /s


  15. - Lobo Y Olla - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 3:57 pm:

    If the McDonald case is such a slam dunk, let me ask you this… Under Illinois law the police officer should have been held “no-bond.” For if an offender personally discharges a firearm that proximately causes death, that defendant SHALL be held no bond if the judge determines that “the proof is evident and the presumption is great” that the defendant killed the victim.
    The judge in this case gave a 1.5M$ bond. So, is the proof a little bit less than “evident?” Is the presumption of guilt not that “great”?


  16. - Politix - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 3:58 pm:

    Wow - Support of the Latino community was the one thing Alvarez had going for her. Agree she needs to go but she won’t step down.

    My prediction for McCarthy is resignation by year’s end.


  17. - Almost the Weekend - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 4:02 pm:

    =My prediction for McCarthy is resignation by year’s end.=

    Agree 100%, I envision something happening like in the show The Wire at the end of Season 5.


  18. - Amalia - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 4:03 pm:

    one thing for sure about Van Cleeve, her book will be read and dissected by ASAs. everyone will read to see and speculate to whom she is referring. that’s also why many watch The Good Wife, as the legal adviser for that show is a former ASA, Irv Miller. the contest in the bond court re weight of defendants was classic ’80s material.


  19. - Wensicia - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 4:10 pm:

    Why haven’t we heard from the U.S. Attorney’s office yet??


  20. - Amalia - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 4:13 pm:

    @Wensicia, their investigations take even longer! heck, the Patrick Kane matter took two months and that did not even include a grand jury and charges and involved only a small number of people. snap judgment is not justice.


  21. - Wensicia - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 4:18 pm:

    @Amalia,

    I don’t expect results of an investigation, just a statement saying they’re looking into legal and civil rights violations. But, I don’t see them bailing out Alvarez with that weak excuse she was waiting on the feds.


  22. - jimbo2 - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 4:23 pm:

    Amalia @3:12
    I suppose her lack of a law degree is somehow significant?


  23. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 4:32 pm:

    McCarthy “out” over/under is January 1, I’d still take the under.

    Alvarez may not get past the primary. If she does, it will be up to the community after March to get her to resign.


  24. - The Teflon Rahm - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 4:35 pm:

    Rahm Emanuel, meet Sgt. Schultz.


  25. - Ghost - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 4:46 pm:

    wouldnt you have had to supported the person before you can turn against them….. not sure these folks were actually alvarez supporters


  26. - WW - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 5:10 pm:

    No doubt, there are still bad actors in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, but based on the anecdotes she shares, Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve’s research appears to go back to Richard M. Daley’s days as State’s Attorney — a job he left more than 26 years ago. I went to law school with several assistant state’s attorneys who have served during the past 10 years, no way would they participate or tolerate this kind of behavior.

    Based on her biography, Van Cleve’s entire career is based on the notion that the justice system is one gigantic racist conspiracy. Again, are there bad actors? Absolutely. But she is hardly an unbiased observer and her credentials aren’t exactly sterling.


  27. - West Side The Best Side - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 5:13 pm:

    Gotta take Van Cleve’s article claiming the current SAO is anything now like it may have been in the long-ago past. She claims that Anita Alvarez and “many other prosecutors (including Mayor Richard M. Daley) rose through the ranks…” Daley never rose through the ranks. He rose by being “Da Mare’s” son and probably never set foot in a criminal courtroom until he was elected SA. If she couldn’t get that right, you just wonder how much else is a retelling of embellished war stories so she can publish, not perish.


  28. - West Side The Best Side - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 5:15 pm:

    Forget to add: “take the article with a grain of salt” Got carried away with backspacing and didn’t proof read.


  29. - Keyrock - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 5:26 pm:

    The NY Times op-ed page joins in:

    The Chicago city officials who delayed justice in the police shooting death of Laquan McDonald should quit.

    http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/11/30/opinion/cover-up-in-chicago.html?_r=0


  30. - low level - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 5:45 pm:

    Alvarez: “… I am not driven by politics.” Right.

    The office has always been a place to try and launch further political careers; sometimes successfully, sometimes not so, but always the occupant is looking for promotions up
    the political chain.


  31. - Blue dog dem - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 5:50 pm:

    Watch how this plays out. Alvarez is going to start pointing fingers towards the mayors office hours before CTU has their strike vote. All attention then gets diverted to this catastrophe.


  32. - JoanP - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 6:09 pm:

    @ Keyrock -

    That link goes to the log-in page. Better link: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/30/opinion/cover-up-in-chicago.html

    This probably doesn’t need saying, but I will anyway: this is not the voice of the NYT, but of the author only.


  33. - Steve - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 6:11 pm:

    Anita Alvarez is a creation of Mayor Daley, John Daley, and Alderman Ed Burke. Her sponsors might be asked to find her a better paying job in the private sector.


  34. - crazybleedingheart - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 6:16 pm:

    If she’s ousted, Daley could find himself feeling a bit…exposed.

    Her support won’t be withdrawn easily.


  35. - Just a squirrel trying to get a nut - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 6:31 pm:

    Yes no one can say for sure but without the black vote it would have been a tough road for him. Also by delaying it it is easier to deflect blame to alverez.


  36. - Keyrock - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 6:32 pm:

    Thanks for the fix, Joan P.


  37. - low level - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 6:45 pm:

    If she starts “pointing fingers at the mayor’s office before the CTU strike” as mentioned above, I’m not sure how this helps her.

    It won’t help her with the north siders who voted for the Mayor. And it will take much more than that to win support on south side/ south suburbs. The townships / suburban areas?


  38. - Johnny's in the Basement - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 7:48 pm:

    Alvarez will soon hear the sound of silence from her former supporters. Those that make you can break you.


  39. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 7:53 pm:

    ==- Oswego Willy - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 4:32 pm:==

    If Alvarez makes it past the primary does she get an independent challenge from a regular Democrat?


  40. - Amalia - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 7:54 pm:

    @jimbo2: when someone says that they were in “Anita’s Army” and they were simply a law clerk, which is often an unpaid position that people take to try and learn and earn cred to get hired as an ASA, that person is kinda misrepresenting their experience. she’s a sociologist so one expects her to study things in a certain cultural context way, and in her case, a Northwestern University way. but she called herself a part of “Anita’s Army” and that seems to be false.


  41. - internal angel - Tuesday, Dec 1, 15 @ 5:14 am:

    I agree with Senator Collins. I see on the news this morning that Rahm has announced a task force. It didnt say who gets to appoint people to the task force. But in Illinois, tje “task force” is usually a “controversy go away” ploy to backroom decisions that nobody wants to take responsibility for. So then they assign the “decisions” to a task force, a collective
    body of blame takers. They usually already know the desired answers to all the questions and already know the desired decision outcome, so they handpick the blame takers they want to hang the decision on. Typical day in Illinois. When will we actually get leaders to be personally involved and accountable for their decisions that they actually get involved in making? For too long we’ve had “pretend” leaders who dont actually get involved in details or analysis to make good decisions. They view their only responsibility is to be popular. We elect leaders to make authority decisions for us. We should be paying alot more attention to their smarts and abilities first.


  42. - Carhartt Representative - Tuesday, Dec 1, 15 @ 7:54 am:

    It works so well to have that appointed school board. I’m sure he can bring that same quality of appointment to the task force. Maybe Zopp can chair it.


  43. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Dec 1, 15 @ 7:56 am:

    We are in need of serious police and criminal justice reform. These are huge issues and should be put in the forefront. Here are places where people can work together across party lines and ideological positions.


  44. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 1, 15 @ 8:05 am:

    Lobo Y Olla, ““the proof is evident and the presumption is great” that the defendant killed the victim” Not arguing, trying to understand. The proof is totally evident that this cop killed the kid. It is a first degree murder charge. I can’t believe the statute calls for the judge to conclude the defendant is guilty of murder, only that he did kill the kid, which his lawyer says he did, with justification. How can the judge bond him out if that is the statute?


  45. - ottawa otter - Tuesday, Dec 1, 15 @ 8:09 am:

    goofed up, I am Anonymous Tuesday 1, 15 8:05


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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