Andrea Zopp and Local Leaders Call on Anita Alvarez to Restore Public Trust in Criminal Justice System with a Special Prosecutor in the Jason Van Dyke Case
On the day Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke returned to court to face charges for the murder of Chicago teenager Laquan McDonald, civil rights leaders, legal advocates and members of clergy joined U.S. Senate candidate Andrea Zopp in another unified call for Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to recuse herself from the case so that a Special Prosecutor can be appointed.
“There is a crisis of confidence in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office that must be addressed now,” said Zopp. “For weeks the community has been calling for a Special Prosecutor, but State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has ignored the voices of the people. It is time for Anita Alvarez to do the right thing for the city of Chicago, for the county of Cook and the criminal justice system and recuse herself and allow for a Special Prosecutor in this case.”
Zopp was joined at today’s press conference by Rev. Janette C. Wilson, Senior Advisor, Rainbow PUSH; Shari Runner, Interim President and CEO, Chicago Urban League; Paul Strauss, Co-Director of Litigation, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Arlene Coleman, President, Cook County Bar Association; Cherita Logan, District Director, Office of Congressman Danny K. Davis; Rev. Danielle J. Buhuro, Pastor, Lincoln Memorial Congregational United Church of Christ; Rev. Aaron McCleod, Associate Pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ; and Rev. Jasmin Taylor, Digital Pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ.
“In addition to my role as a civil rights activist, I approach this challenge as a criminal defense attorney with more than 30 years of experience,” said Wilson. “There is a unique law enforcement relationship between police officers and state’s attorneys that often requires that the state’s attorney be recused from prosecuting police officers. In a case as heinous as this one and after an inexcusable delay in filing charges, justice demands that Anita Alvarez recuse herself from the Van Dyke case. At this point, we believe that it is virtually impossible for her to be objective and fair.”
“The appointment of a Special Prosecutor will go a long way towards restoring broken public trust and faith in our justice system,” said Runner. “A Special Prosecutor, the Department of Justice investigation, along with other long term reforms, is necessary to hold people accountable and ensure protection of civil rights and civil liberties.”
Logan, representing Congressman Danny K. Davis, shared his support in the call for a Special Prosecutor by adding: “The morality of the city of Chicago, Cook County and the state of Illinois is on trial right now. It would be an insult to the entire community and to all who wish to restore their faith in the criminal justice system to ignore this call for a Special Prosecutor.”
Zopp, a former First Assistant State’s Attorney who successfully prosecuted a police officer for shooting an unarmed homeless man during her career at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, has been calling for a Special Prosecutor in the Van Dyke case since late November when, after a 13 month delay, charges were filed against Van Dyke on the day of the release of the horrific video of Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times.
“The city of Chicago and Cook County are in a state of emergency. All of us who care about justice will continue to call for a Special Prosecutor. The public trust has been broken and this is a critical step toward rebuilding that trust.”