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South Suburban Democratic Group Backs Kim Foxx for State’s Attorney

Norman Parish | 12/23/2015, 12:49 p.m.
The controversial police shooting of Laquan McDonald in Chicago in part last week prompted a group of officials in south ...
Thornton Township Trustee Frank Zuccarelli (left) last week endorsed Kim Foxx (right) for Cook County State's Attorney. Photo by Norman Parish

The controversial police shooting of Laquan McDonald in Chicago in part last week prompted a group of officials in south suburban Illinois to back former prosecutor Kim Foxx instead of incumbent Anita Alvarez in the Cook County state’s attorney race.

The decision by the powerful Thornton Township Democratic Organization is the first time in recent years that it didn’t back the incumbent for office, acknowledged Thornton Township Trustee Frank Zuccarelli.

“Usually, we have traditionally supported incumbents on a regular basis,”  said Zuccarelli at the news conference at the Senior/Youth & Family Services Center, 14323 S. Halsted St. in Riverdale, Ill.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.

In response to the endorsements, Ken Snyder, a Alvarez campaign spokesman, said: “Anita has never been close to or supported by the Cook County Machine because she’s always believed it’s important for the State’s Attorney to be a professional and independent prosecutor first, who acts in the best interest of victims of crime and not political insiders.”

At the news conference, Zuccarelli was joined by various elected officials from the towns of Dixmoor, Hazel Crest, Harvey, Markham, Burnham, Homewood, South Holland, Dolton, Lansing and Riverdale. Deborah Sims (5th Dist.) also attended the event.

Zuccarelli pointed out that “law enforcement needs the trust and confidence of people to serve.”

Thornton Township Trustee Frank Zuccarelli last week endorsed Kim Foxx for Cook County State's Attorney.

Thornton Township Trustee Frank Zuccarelli last week endorsed Kim Foxx for Cook County State's Attorney.

“We can never predict when or where excessive force may take place or defend completely against the actions of a few police out of many thousands who serve,” Zuccarelli added. “But we must never be complacent in our pursuit of justice and correcting injustice, if we are to maintain the faith and trust of the people.

“That is why [we] are announcing today that we will withdraw our support from Anita Alvarez for re-election as Cook County’s states attorney.”

In response to reporters’ questions about his actions, Zuccarelli said, “What has really gotten my attention are comments that I have received throughout our communities and from various government officials. People have become very distrustful of government in general. The Laquan McDonald case was something that just really ignited the fear and concern toward real justice being served in our communities.”

In the McDonald case, the African American teen was shot 16 times by a white officer. A judge ordered the controversial video-cam to be released publicly a year after October 2014 shooting.

Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with shooting McDonald shortly before the video was released. Several activists and elected officials have called for Alvarez’s office to be investigated for how it is handling the case, including Foxx.

Zuccarelli also suggested that the Dixmoor Five case played a role in the group’s decision.

“And that along with the re-examining the Dixmoor Five case and the copies of the videos that have been sent around to a number of people and the current state’s comments regarding her opinion on whether or not these individuals are guilty or not guilty . . . has concerned many, many people in our community,” he said.

In the Dixmoor Five case, five teens were convicted in 1991 of the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl. The teens allegedly confessed to the offenses. But later, DNA linked to a serial rapist to the crime. The group was cleared in 2011 and released from prison.

In a “60 Minutes” television program, Alvarez suggested that the DNA evidence could have resulted from necrophilia. In order words, the rapist could have had sex with the girl after she allegedly was murdered by the Dixmoor Five.

Alvarez caught heat for her television interview, which she claims was taken out of context.

Donna More, a former federal and state prosecutor, also is seeking the office. She is white, while Alvarez is Hispanic and Foxx is African American.

Foxx, of Flossmoor, is a former Cook County assistant state's attorney. She has served as chief of staff for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Preckwinkle is backing Foxx.