CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Youth-driven protest groups are claiming victory after the defeat of Anita Alvarez in the race for State’s Attorney, and perhaps with good reason.
“Young people in the streets, young people really asserting themselves, has made a big difference and what we see with yesterday’s outcome in the State's Attorney's race is real political power,” said journalist Jamie Kalven, executive director of the Invisible Institute, who has followed political activism for 25 years and broke the Laquan McDonald story more than a year ago.
It was just about a month ago that a poll had Anita Alvarez ahead in the State's Attorney's race. But the protest movement, driven by young people that took over Michigan Avenue on Black Friday, was not done fighting for her ouster. A campaign called #ByeAnita was launched and the anti-Alvarez movement had new life.
“We organized around Anita Alvarez's fundraisers, we organized around her public forums, we held a social media campaign that encouraged people to hashtag #ByeAnita and continued to spread reasons why Anita Alvarez should not be a state's attorney,” said 23 year old Veronica Morris-Moore, a youth organizer with the #ByeAnita campaign.
The protest efforts culminated on Election Day when planes flew over Chicago with #ByeAnita banners. But it all really started with the release of the Laquan McDonald video
“From my perspective, the great contribution of the youthful organizers and these groups has been to keep these issues and above all the Laquan McDonald case front and center,” Kalven said.
Various protest groups are claiming victory even though they were never behind Kim Foxx, who defeated Alvarez in the democratic primary, but instead focused their efforts against Alvarez.
Certainly Foxx's campaign and the political muscle of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle behind her played a significant role in the election outcome. But even Mayor Rahm Emanuel was forced to acknowledge the pressure for change that protest groups wielded.
“I don't need an election to know that we have a lot of responsibility, post Laquan McDonald what happened in that situation to do our work. I think the voters were clear that they want to see a change, not just in that part, in the sense of the prosecutor, but also in our police department, our community relations and how we work together,” the Mayor said.