Amid calls from Chicago officials asking Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx to hold those arrested for looting in Chicago accountable, Foxx announced Thursday her office has approved 42 of 43 felony cases brought by police.
Most of the cases centered on charges of burglary and looting, but others included attempted murder, aggravated battery and resisting a police officer, theft, criminal damage to property and gun possession.
“The State’s Attorney Office is ready and available to review cases brought to us by law enforcement and to charge those cases when appropriate,” Foxx said in a statement. “I am committed to keeping our communities safe and continuing to collaborate with our law enforcement partners to demand accountability and seek justice for the people of Cook County.”
Questions over whether a lack of consequences played a role in Monday's looting and unrest surfaced as the city's top cop said "criminals took the streets with confidence that there would be no consequences for their actions."
Some cited the fact that Foxx's office declined to prosecute people associated with peaceful protesting earlier this summer as unrest led to looting and destruction.
"Put your best people on this," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday. "We have made the case, we have the video, we have the officer testimony - these people need to be held accountable and not cycled through the system. And judges that are holding these these cases, you need to step up and be responsible. We can't continue to allow this to happen and as the superintendent said, for people to believe that there is no accountability through our criminal justice system... no one wants to hold people in jail because they are poor, but people who engage in this kind of criminal activity, they need to be held accountable."
Both Foxx and Chief Judge Timothy Evans disputed claims that there is a lack of consequences for such actions.
"Our office is not in the arresting business," she said. "We get the cases when they are brought to us."
Foxx said of the cases brought to her during the George Floyd protests that began in the spring, the vast majority were ordinance violations and misdemeanors. Only 29%, she said, were felonies.
She accused her critics of confusing peaceful protesters with looters and bristled at suggestions that in an effort to pursue bail reform she had been soft on lawbreakers who had been too-easily returned to the street.
"The violence and destruction we saw last night was unacceptable," Foxx tweeted Monday afternoon. "The @cookcountysao has been extremely clear in making the distinction between peaceful protestors and prosecuting those causing harm, damage, and inciting violence."
She noted in an earlier press conference that those charged in previous looting are awaiting trial.
More than 100 people were arrested in downtown Chicago early Monday as the chaos also left more than a dozen officers injured, police said.
Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans said the court "is prepared to promptly and fairly adjudicate all cases brought before it," but not scheduling limitations due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It should be noted that the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions require the court to impose accountability on a defendant in the form of punishment only after finding that the defendant is guilty of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt," Evans said in a statement to NBC 5. "The court must not only consider the fact that the defendant has been arrested, but also the evidence that supports the allegations and the evidence, or lack of evidence, that supports the defense. While the case is pending, the court’s bail decisions must balance the right of the defendant to be presumed innocent with any evidence that the defendant would pose a real and present threat to the physical safety of any person."