CHICAGO — Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx faced criticism from downtown business owners, the police superintendent and her political rivals Monday over her approach to prosecuting people arrested during unrest in Chicago.
Foxx is up for re-election in November, and her critics are pouncing as she faces tough questions over how she’s handled people who are arrested during looting in late May.
Hundreds of looters rampaged through downtown Chicago late Sunday, converging on Michigan Avenue, smashing storefronts, looting property and creating chaos in scenes reminiscent of the rioting that occurred on May 31 after the police killing of George Floyd.
Questioned about her response to the looting and rioting that occurred in May, Foxx said police arrested 5,000 people that weekend but only about 1,400 on looting-related charges. She says those cases are being prosecuted.
Speaking Monday morning, Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown said looters have “learned there are no consequences,” a clear shot at Foxx over her handling of cases.
“It’s important to recognize why we drop cases, we may drop a case because the facts and evidence don’t substantiate a charge, we may drop a case because a witness key to the cases has decided to no longer cooperate,” Foxx said.
While calling the looting Sunday night a “blatant display of criminal behavior,” the prosecutor defended her bail reforms which are being criticized as too lenient.
“The notion that people believe that they are somehow empowered because people weren’t prosecuted for looting back in the wake of the unrest beginning is simply not true,” Foxx said. “It does not serve us to have dishonest blame games, when all our hearts are breaking by what we’re seeing.”
Former Cook County Judge Pat O’Brien is the Republican candidate running against Foxx in November, and blames Foxx for what he describes as a growing unease as violent crime rises that the city is up for grabs.
O’Brien said and he says the prosecutor isn’t fighting for the people, and is making Chicago a “free-for-all for people who want to steal.”
“This is a time when Kim Foxx has to be fired,” O Brien said. “Our town is like Dodge City. On a second term it will become like Tombstone. This can’t go on.”
Foxx said the cases which were dismissed were charged with curfew violations, disorderliness for not dispersing in time, instead of anything directly connected with looting.
Additionally, Foxx said the pandemic, the economic free-fall and the rise in violent crime have made 2020 unlike any year we have seen, and she says finding solutions to the problems that result in looting is a complex process that can’t be dealt with in simple sound bites.