Kim Foxx, poised to be the first black and first black female elected as Cook County state’s attorney, is indeed a giant slayer, having defeated incumbent Anita Alvarez by nearly 30 percentage points.
I wonder, however, if we’re all expecting a bit too much when it comes to her ability to change the culture of the Chicago Police Department.
After all, if Foxx prevails in the general election, she would still be facing a controversy that pits the law enforcement against community activists.
And despite her background in restorative justice, Foxx is going to be making the tough calls on cases involving not only police officials accused of misconduct but of young offenders accused with causing the kind of havoc in black communities that claimed the life of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee.
On Tuesday night, Foxx made a point of mentioning the three police officers shot by a 29-year-old man, with a long criminal record, who was fatally wounded at the scene. Lamar Harris had 43 arrests and seven felony convictions.
“The gulf between law enforcement and our community must be bridged. Just last night three police officers were shot in the line of duty. We must respect the risk that they take, the work that they do,” Foxx told her supporters after her stunning victory.
Crista Noel, founder of the Women’s All Point Bulletin, an advocacy group for female victims of police violence, acknowledged that Foxx is now a politician.
“I think the problem with all politicians is they dream of a world that can be, then they get in there and find out what they are dealing with. It is just not ‘I can come in and transform this thing,’” Noel said.
Women’s All Point Bulletin has been the leading voice calling for the U.S. Department of Justice to prosecute Chicago Police detective Dante Servin for the 2012 killing of Rekia Boyd. Boyd was fatally wounded when Servin, who was off duty at the time, fired into a crowd.
There’s healing needed on both sides of the policing issue, Noel pointed out.
“When [Foxx] said something about the three cops that got shot, everybody was like ‘What?’” Noel said.
“But what do you expect from police officers. They can’t pull their guns and shoot when they are actually being shot at?” she asked rhetorically.
People shouldn’t put all their hopes on Foxx being able to change the police culture anytime soon, Noel said.
“That was our expectation for the first black man in the White House,” Noel said, referring to President Barack Obama.
“Foxx won’t be the majority of the people in the room. She has to deal with white judges, white police officers, and white prosecutors, and she is not going to be able to change the world immediately.”
In a statement released late Wednesday, the Black Youth Project 100, an activist group that has led protests against Alvarez, called on Foxx to stay “true to her platform and work for an elected civilian police accountability council.”
If Foxx does win the general election in November, it will mean that the heads of the three law enforcement agencies that deal with police misconduct will be black women.
Lori Lightfoot is head of the Chicago Police Board. In a shakeup of the Independent Police Review Authority after the release of the Laquan McDonald video, Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Sharon Fairley as the chief administrator.
“To me, you damn near can’t get no better than that unless you get a black mayor. The power is in the hands of black women at every level,” Noel said.