The Real Winner Last Night? Black Lives Matter and Racial Justice

  • Posted on March 16, 2016
  • by Staff

The day after what the pundits have, in their total dearth of creativity, dubbed “Super Tuesday 3,” every cable news channel is tripping over themselves to proclaim winners and losers. Was it Trump? Was it Kasich? Was it Hillary?

Nope. It was the Black Lives Matter movement and our fight for racial justice.

Why? Cook County, Illinois and Cuyahoga County, Ohio.

In Cook County, the county that is home to the city of Chicago, the prosecutor race became a referendum on police brutality in light of the gross mishandling of Laquan McDonald’s murder. Country Prosecutor Anita Alvarez was rightfully criticized for her failure to act in light of this egregious crime, her reluctance to release the dash cam footage, and her painful delay in levying murder charges against Officer Jason Van Dyke. There was no excuse for the show of lethal force the police used against Laquan because there is never an excuse for placing 16 bullets in a teenagers chest. The public became outraged, and rightfully so. Alvarez and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s administration actively obstructed the pursuit of justice in this situation and they needed to be held accountable.

That’s exactly what Cook County voters did last night. The incumbent Alvarez lost in a landslide. Her opponent, pro-criminal justice reform advocate Kim Foxx, defeated her 58% to 28% with most of precincts tallied. This wasn’t a narrow loss and the message voters sent could not be more clear.

It also goes to show the power the people truly have when they rise up and exercise their right to vote. With huge turnout and vote margins for Foxx in predominantly black and hispanic communities in Chicago, those most impacted by these systemic injustices and acts of police brutality, these communities stood up and said “Enough is enough, we will not let this injustice continue.”

That is the power of people in action. Rahm Emmanuel should look at these vote totals and be horrified about his reelection prospects. We’d ask him to do the right thing and resign given his role in the attempted cover up of Laquan’s murder, but we doubt he is that principled of a person. Voters must not forget how he acted through this situation and remember to once again show up and vote him out during his next reelection.

A similar situation played out in Cuyahoga County in Ohio, where incumbent prosecutor Tim McGinty was also ousted by a decisive margin.

McGinty had been under fire for his failure to act and pursue justice in the murder of Tamir Rice at the hands of police officers. McGinty stalled the investigation into the murder, fought back against levying charges against the officer, and even went as far as making slanderous remarks about the family of the 12 year-old victim.

“They’re very interesting people… let me just leave it at that,” he said of Tamir’s family, ”They have their own economic motives.”

Like in Cook County, voters were repulsed by his actions and kicked him to the curb. He lost to Michael O’Malley by a large margin.

Let’s take a moment and commend the voters of Cook and Cuyahoga County as well as the Black Lives Matter movement and all the other organizations who fought so hard to see justice served in both of these murders. We should all take note of what they were able to achieve and apply their strategies to future efforts. The combination of a social justice movement engaging in civil protest followed by mobilizing and motivating voters to take action at the ballot box has resulted in two decisive wins for racial justice. Let’s continue this moment in our never ending fight for an America that stands up for our core principles of justice and equality for all, not just some.