Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Two Prosecutors Ousted over their Handling of Police Shootings

German Lopez:
There were two little-known but stunning upsets during the Super Tuesday II elections on March 15: Anita Alvarez lost her bid for reelection for state's attorney of Cook County, Illinois, and Tim McGinty lost his reelection bid for county prosecutor in Cuyahoga, County, Ohio. . . . Both of the incumbents lost, in part, because the Black Lives Matter movement criticized them for mishandling and neglecting high-profile police shooting cases over the past few years.
The campaigns against Alvaraz and McGinty were both fueled by famous cases:
Alvarez drew a serious challenge to her reelection bid after she failed for more than a year to prosecute the Chicago police officer who in October 2014 shot and killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Only after a court forced authorities to in November 2015 release a video of the shooting did Alvarez, facing serious protests, decide to file charges.

McGinty, meanwhile, was challenged after he didn't land criminal charges against the Cleveland police officer who in 2014 shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice or a conviction against a Cleveland police officer who in 2012 shot and killed Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.
I don't know much about McGinty, but Alvarez was a famously "tough on crime" prosecutor who caused lots of mayhem  in Chicago, and I am happy to see her thrown out.

This is also encouraging because these down-ballot races get hardly any attention, making it very hard to oust prosecutors no matter how bad their behavior. But in these cases the voters got riled enough to act. In part this was due to Black Lives Matter activists, who are doing a good job of turning the outrage that spawned their movement into a concrete plan for improving police conduct and now into actual electoral victories.

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