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Kim Foxx fires back at Chicago cop union over Jussie Smollett attacks

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx is flanked by The Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Otis Moss III, of Trinity United Church of Christ during the regular Saturday meeting at Rainbow Push. | Leslie Adkins/For the Sun-Times

Cook County’s top prosecutor made clear Saturday that she would not resign after being the target of attacks by the Chicago police union and dozens of suburban police chiefs over her handling of Jussie Smollett’s criminal case.

State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, speaking at Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition, said she was “undaunted” by the criticism she’s faced in the two weeks since her office dismissed all charges against Smollett. The “Empire” actor, who is black and openly gay, had been indicted on 16 charges of faking a racist, homophobic attack against himself.

“I cannot run an office that is driven by anger and public sentiment,” Foxx said. “I must run an office that looks at the facts, the evidence and the law on every case. That is my responsibility.”

Foxx, who had recused herself from the Smollett case because she had a conversation with one of Smolett’s relatives, has wavered on whether prosecutors had the evidence to convict Smollett if the case went to trial, first telling the Sun-Times that her office “had a strong case” against the actor before two days later saying a conviction was “uncertain.”

Foxx, however, said she has always worked with law enforcement partners — even if they had concerns with her policies — in a professional manner to enact reform. She said she was disappointed to see police not return the same professionalism this week.

“I think we have to ask ourselves, what is this really about?” Foxx said. “As someone who has lived in this city — who came up from the projects of this city to serve as the first African-American woman in this role — it is disheartening to me, and to the women and men who I represent … that when we get in these positions, goal posts change.

“I stand with our partners in law enforcement every day. I will never speak ill about our partners in this work,” Foxx said. “And even though there are challenges between any relationship, you have never seen the Cook County state’s attorney stand at any podium, stand in any room, and disrespect or disregard any of those partners.”

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx answers questions from the media Saturday during a press conference at Rainbow PUSH. | Leslie Adkins/For the Sun-Times. File Photo.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx answers questions from the media Saturday during a press conference at Rainbow PUSH. | Leslie Adkins/For the Sun-Times.
Leslie Adkins/For the Sun-Times.

Foxx’s comments came two days after Kevin Graham, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, stood with about 40 suburban police chiefs as they called on Foxx to resign, saying they had secured a unanimous vote of “no confidence” in Foxx’s ability to do her job.

Prior to Foxx’s press conference Saturday morning, she met with a group of more than a dozen black mayors and seven black police chiefs from the south suburbs, according to Robbins Mayor Tyrone Ward. “We were satisfied with her addressing our questions and concerns,” Ward said, adding that the group backed her position.

A stark difference was apparent between the all-white group of police chiefs speaking Thursday and the nearly all-black group of supporters standing with Foxx on Saturday.

Jackson said the attacks on Foxx were “personal” but expected from a police union that “fought for Jon Burge,” the disgraced CPD detective commander accused for decades of abuse and torture.“The FOP has been resistant to police and criminal justice reform for a long time,” Jackson said.Among others who joined Foxx in a show of support were U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (1st), Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, community activist and former mayoral candidate Ja’Mal Green, longtime civil rights attorney Flint Taylor and a group of faith leaders.

“The FOP is the sworn enemy of black people,” Rush said, calling the attacks on Foxx racist. Rush said he was confident Foxx would continue to fulfill the promise of criminal justice reform that got her elected after the police-killing of Laquan McDonald roiled the city, and that she would turn the tide on what he called a historically racist state’s attorney’s office.