Amid increasing calls for her resignation, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez delivered a fiery defense of herself and her office's investigation into the Laquan McDonald case Thursday, adding that she has no plans to step down.
Politicians, elected officials and activists have called for Alvarez to resign in the days since the release of the dashcam video showing the shooting death of McDonald by a Chicago police officer. Since the video was released, however, Alvarez has stood by her case and defended those involved.
Following a press conference with Cook County Commissioners John Fritchey and Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, Alvarez talked to reporters and pointed a finger at her political opponents for inciting the anti-Alvarez rhetoric in recent days.
"That's disgusting, it's degrading. It's degrading to the criminal justice system," Alvarez said. "The case is pending right now, and I think it's disgusting what they're trying to do, to turn this into their own political game. And I think that's exactly what's happening here."
Alvarez will face a tough primary race to hold onto her seat in March. Her two opponents, former prosecutors Kim Foxx and Donna More, have been vocal in the past two weeks about the McDonald case. Both of them have accused Alvarez of poor handling of the case, calling out the 13 months it took her to file charges against Officer Jason Van Dyke and release the dashcam video.
In addition to the backlash Alvarez has faced about the length of the investigation in the McDonald case, she has also been accused alongside Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy of aiding a cover-up of the shooting. Alvarez vehemently denied this claim, however.
"You're all intelligent, you get this. Let's think about it," Alvarez told reporters. "If Anita Alvarez was going to whitewash a case, if Anita Alvarez was going to look away, if Anita Alvarez wasn't going to do her job and look at this case and do her review for excessive force, let me think. Hmm. I'm going to conspire to whitewash this to push it under the rug. Hmm. Who are my co-conspirators going to be. Let me see. I'm going to call on the head of the FBI. He could be a co-conspirator with me. Let me call on the U.S. Attorney for the northern district of Illinois and say, 'Come be a co-conspirator with me, so we can cover this up.' That is just absurd."
Earlier this week, Alvarez released a statement in her defense, saying she "refused to be bullied by politicians." In response to this statement, Fritchey and Garcia said they wanted to give her the chance to answer the questions that her opponents are asking about the case at the next Cook County Board meeting.
Alvarez responded by saying neither of them asked for the release of the McDonald video last spring. She also called Fritchey, who considered running against Alvarez, "one of the most self-serving people I've ever met."
"We're not bullying her, we're inviting her," Fritchey said.
Alvarez said, however, that neither of them have reached out to her asking for a meeting.
Despite her unwavering defense of the investigation, protesters continue to demand Alvarez's resignation, just as many of them did for McCarthy, who was fired by Emanuel on Tuesday. Shortly before Alvarez spoke out on Thursday, members of the clergy and community activist groups gathered in front of the State's Attorney's office to demand her resignation. The group claimed they had 32,000 signatures on a petition aimed at getting Alvarez out of office.
Meanwhile, another group of protesters began a 16-hour sit-in Thursday morning to demand Alvarez's resignation. The number of hours of the sit-in was chosen to reflect the number of times McDonald was shot by Van Dyke.
Although McCarthy has already been ousted, and Emanuel faces increasing calls for his resignation as well, Alvarez stood firm on her intention to stay in office.
"I am going to continue to be Cook County State's Attorney, and there's no way that I would ever even consider resigning," Alvarez said.