|Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx speaks at Rainbow PUSH headquarters on Saturday | CBS Chicago|
On Saturday, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx appeared at Rainbow PUSH headquarters where she found some friendly faces after being derided for nearly two weeks over her office’s handling of the Jussie Smollett hoax hate crime case.
Yesterday, an assistant state’s attorney in Foxx’s office sent the following essay to CWBChicago to express a view from inside the prosecutor’s office. We are publishing the piece in its entirety with permission. The author asked to remain anonymous because they are not permitted to speak publicly about department business.
Chicago has long been considered one of the most segregated cities in the United States. Freed African-Americans made their way to this transportation and industry hub to find great success in the early 20th century. Some of the most moneyed, respected and land-owning Chicagoans were African-Americans who had fled the south.
At some point however, something went horribly wrong. Blacks and whites began to face drastically different job prospects, different schooling and different qualities of life. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, as young men of all races were cast off in Vietnam, rage against law enforcement boiled. This served to further segregate blacks and whites in Chicago. There were cases of police brutality in economically deprived communities and in Chicago, that meant predominantly black communities. There was seemingly no voice, no authority figure to defend these communities of “have nots” from the power of the “haves.”
We have an undeniably sordid racial history in Chicago that dates back to the early 20th century and has left a black mark on our city’s ethos.
Fast forward to 2019 Chicago. The State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) is an international laughingstock, as politicians, comedians, scholars, legal pundits and regular ol’ citizens alike blast its handling of the case against Jussie Smollett. The criticism is pointed squarely at Kim Foxx, the first African American female elected to fill the prestigious role of Cook County State’s Attorney.
In the wake of said criticism, Ms. Foxx speaks at a Rainbow PUSH coalition meeting and states she cannot run an office “driven by anger and public sentiment.” She says “the goal posts change” when an African-American takes the position of head prosecutor, seemingly calling the critique of the SAO’s handling of the Smollett case racially-based and derogatory toward her people. This, while Jamal Green stands on the same stage and refers to the Chicago Police Department as the “blue klux klan,” and Bobby Rush states that the Fraternal Order of Police has long been the sworn enemy of black people.
Notably, State’s Attorney Foxx refused to speak out against these salacious remarks. Also notable, the politicians, comedians, scholars, legal pundits and regular ol’ citizens alike that I mentioned above were not all white people. In fact, many African-Americans spoke out against Ms. Foxx’s handling of the case.
It isn’t about race, it’s about basic legal ethics. And it should not have anything to do with that sordid history.
I have been an Assistant State’s Attorney for 15 years. And, I am white. During that time I have spent an inordinate amount of hours trying to make right the endemic violence on the South and West sides of Chicago. The majority of my victims have been black, as have the majority of charged offenders. I have sat and cried with mothers of murder victims, their young sons and daughters gunned down by members of their own race because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time. These mothers never called me racist.
I have consoled witnesses to unspeakable acts, schoolchildren who have told me they did not have social workers at their schools to discuss the violence they observed and that they never left the house, save for the ride to and from school, because of where they lived. I have visited people’s homes, talked to grandmas and aunts and heard from them that they need help, because the boys and girls in their families could not leave the house without fear of being shot or having to shoot someone.
I have spoken with men charged with rape, murder, armed robbery and other countless violent crimes. They have told me so many stories. One had fetal alcohol syndrome. Another had lost five family members in the last year to gun violence. I have spent countless hours at crime scenes, in the ER at Stroger and Christ Hospitals and at 26th and California, trying to rectify the emptiness that these mothers, witnesses and victims feel.
Although I am salaried I often get to work at 7:30 in the morning and do not leave until 8:00 at night. We do not get overtime. That means I do not get to see my daughter before she goes to sleep. I often have to come in on weekends to complete discovery or study for a jury trial. This means no activities or quiet time with my daughter or my husband.
I am not unique, nor do I mean to laud my hard work. In fact, I probably work less than many of my colleagues. But you know who works more? Police officers. By far.
Police officers are white, black, Asian, Hispanic, Eastern European, you name it. They do not segregate themselves by race or community. They work together every single day to try and prevent anarchy in the communities where gun violence, drug use and violence against women are everyday occurrences. They are the first ones on scene when there is a bleeding baby lying shot in the street, or when a mother sobs over her dead teenage child’s body.
Think about that, think about the hours of trauma they absorb, surrounding themselves with pain and tragedy. They work inhuman hours. The police that I work with answer questions about work 24/7. They never stop. Their commitment to the communities they serve is something I have never seen in any other profession. They have families they do not see, birthdays they miss, baseball games and dance recitals they can’t make it to because they are working up a case. They suffer from PTSD, obesity, alcohol abuse and depression because of what they see on a daily basis. As noted recently in the media, police officers suffer from an astounding suicide rate. These men and women of all races are literally killing themselves to protect the community.
In Chicago’s history there have been countless unfortunate stories of corrupt and violent police officers. As have there been of priests and teachers who have sexually abused young children, caretakers who have stolen life savings from the elderly and politicians who have fleeced the entire state for millions of dollars.
The fact of the matter is that the majority of police officers work this merciless job out of an utter devotion to keeping people safe and making right the bad acts of certain individuals in our communities.
When you demean law enforcement like that you not only strip them of their dignity, you also contribute to the violence in the city. Because young African-American boys and girls who hear the head prosecutor, Jesse Jackson, Bobby Rush, Al Sharpton, et al call police racist, act accordingly. They commit acts of violence against innocent police officers. They enact street justice when people are killed, refusing to cooperate with law enforcement and instead promulgating the violence. They lock their doors when police come to talk about murders in their neighborhoods. Unchecked and untrue criticism of the police destroys communities it does not build them up.
Most importantly, calling all police officers racist is not only offensive, it is morally unconscionable.
And blaming Jussie Smollett fallout on race? That is just ignorant and self-serving. It is a complete bastardization of a bona fide movement against acts of racism, which, as a society we should obviously not tolerate. Much like Jussie Smollett’s acts bastardized a bona fide movement against hate crimes.
No prosecutors or police officers, and I mean none, thought that the just result would be for Jussie Smollett to go to prison. He was charged with a Class 4 felony. The anticipated outcome was a reduced sentence, a misdemeanor with some community service or restitution. This would have been done on the record, on a regularly scheduled court date, with the Chicago Police being notified, since they are the “victim” in a disorderly conduct of this nature. This case was handled markedly different from any other case at 26th Street. No one knows why, and more importantly, no one can explain why our boss, the head prosecutor of all of Cook County, has decided to so demean and debase both our hard work, and our already tenuous relationship with the Chicago Police Department.
Just to be clear – this is not an attack on Ms. Foxx’s race, it is an attack on her ethics and her efficacy as State’s Attorney.