Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has received a series of threats against her life and safety in the wake of her office’s decision last month to abruptly drop criminal charges against “Empire” star Jussie Smollett, according to a high-ranking staffer and a political ally.
Jennifer Ballard Croft, Foxx’s chief of staff, confirmed Monday that Foxx’s “physical safety” has been threatened in the wake of the Smollett case.
“The State’s Attorney’s Office can confirm that the state’s attorney has received threats to her personal safety and security, a number of which have contained racially-charged language,” Ballard Croft told the Sun-Times.
Ballard Croft said the threatening messages have come in the form of emails and calls, but she declined to provide additional details about the specific nature of the threats. She said investigators with the state’s attorney’s office’s Investigations Bureau and Executive Protection Unit had been alerted to the threats.
Ballard Croft noted that the state’s attorney’s office has received an influx of calls and messages regarding prosecutors’ handling of the Smollett case. While some people have simply voiced displeasure about the outcome, she said “there have certainly been things that have been threatening in nature that have been forwarded up to our investigation bureau.”
A political consultant close to Foxx, who asked not to be named, noted that the state’s attorney has recently received three alarming letters, some of which have included threats to her life.
An email addressed to Foxx that was reviewed by the Sun-Times includes racist language but no explicit threats to her safety.
“African Americans need to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for their own DAMN DECISIONS & STOP TRYING TO PLAY THE RACE CARD on every damn situation that arises,” the email reads. “LET ME BE CLEAR: I have no pity for African American’s [sic] WHO MAKE S— UP TO PUSH SOCIAL JUSTICE.”
A copy of the email was also sent to Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. His office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
The consultant claimed all the recent threats appeared to have been sent by “white supremacists” and said the other letters clearly threatened her life.
“From what I know is they’ve also been racially charged with similar context,” she said.
The wave of threats has directly impacted Foxx’s personal life, according to the consultant. In addition to hiring a round-the-clock private security detail, Foxx’s plans for the Easter holiday were also disrupted, the consultant said.
The consultant bemoaned claims that Foxx was stoking racial divisions as she responded to criticism over her office’s decision to abruptly drop a list of criminal charges against Smollett.
“At some point we have to ask, how is she playing a race card if there are threats on her life and white supremacists at rallies against her?” she said — referring to reports that men with ties to the white nationalist movement were seen at a rally against Foxx earlier this month.
Sally Daly, director of communications for former Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, said receiving threats “is an unfortunate and very difficult part of the job.”
Like Foxx, Alvarez faced intense scrutiny over her handling of a high-profile case that galvanized people in Chicago and beyond. Alvarez’s decision to wait over a year to prosecute former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke in the 2014 fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald drew widespread condemnation — much like Foxx has drawn for her office’s decision to drop the charges against Smollett.
“Ms. Alvarez did face numerous threats during her tenure as State’s Attorney, in regard to high profile cases, lower level cases and also in connection with some of the cases she prosecuted over the course of her career involving convictions against violent felony offenders,” Daly told the Sun-Times.