CHICAGO - Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx announced Tuesday that her office won’t prosecute protestors for minor offenses, confirming a Monday report by FOX 32.
The new policy comes after many peaceful protestors were arrested and charged for various nonviolent offenses including: curfew violations, unlawful gathering, criminal trespass to state land, disorderly conduct and public demonstration.
“Over the past month we have seen righteous anger, collective grief, action, and demands for justice,” Foxx said in a statement.
“I’m encouraged by the efforts of those who are standing against years of racial injustice to resoundingly state that ‘Black Lives Matter,'” she said. “We have the right to peacefully protest for change, but those choosing to exploit this moment, by causing harm and damage, will be held accountable.”
Under the new policy, prosecutors will review incidents on a case-by-case basis “to determine if there is reason to proceed in the interest of public safety,” according to Foxx’s statement.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot confirmed Monday that she has discussed the issue with Foxx.
“I know that she's looking at all of these cases. And I think that there will be some news around that announced shortly,” Lightfoot said.
FOX 32 obtained the internal email last week from First Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Magats, reading in part: "Cases are to be nolled (dismissed) where curfew violations or city disorderly conduct was the basis of a stop that led to a felony or misdemeanor case....(i)f there are misdemeanor disorderlies where the conduct that was disorderly was a curfew violation, those cases are to be dismissed."
Five separate attempts to get a comment from the state's attorney’s office failed to elicit any response at all.
Until Mayor Lightfoot canceled the curfew after several days, the ACLU of Illinois threatened to sue the city, complaining that 93-percent of the 440 or so arrested for curfew violations were African American.
The mayor Monday wouldn't rule out using a curfew in the future.
“If the circumstances warrant it, it's something that we will consider. A curfew is not something we ever will or can enter into lightly,” Lightfoot said.
“Curfews are gonna raise a red flag every time they're used. And we strongly urge the city not to ever use again,” said Jahan Choudhury of the ACLU of Illinois.
Foxx’s Republican challenger in the November election calls dismissing the charges a mistake.
“This particular general kind of rule is gonna handcuff her own assistants and the police,” Patrick O’Brien said.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.