By SAM RAPPAPORT
Staff Writer at the Hyde Park Herald
Submitted by Brian Vickers, CCNM Photojournalist
A group of protesters shut down an event with Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez at the University of Chicago’s (U. of C.) Institute of Politics (IOP), 5707 S. Woodlawn Ave., Wednesday, Feb. 17.
Alvarez visited the IOP on Wednesday to defend her resume and field questions from students. She is currently campaigning for a third term as Cook County State’s Attorney and faces democratic challengers Kim Foxx and Donna More in the March 15 primary elections.
Shortly after the event commenced, activists from the Black Youth Project 100, Black Lives Matter-Chicago (BLM-Chicago) and student organization Campaign for Equitable Policing marched into the building and upstaged Alvarez with choreographed chants and diatribes.
Alvarez’ security detail quickly ushered her out of the building and she did not return.
In a written statement released after the event, BLM-Chicago said Wednesday’s action was motivated by Alvarez’s “complicity in state violence against Black and brown people in the City of Chicago; corruption in covering up videos of police killings including withholding video evidence for over 400 days regarding the murders of Laquan McDonald and Ronald Johnson; and failing to appropriately charge officers in the killing deaths of unarmed civilians as she did with CPD officer Dante Servin who murdered Rekia Boyd.”
At Wednesday’s event, activists occupied the IOP for approximately 20 minutes before asking students to join them in marching out of the venue.
Among statements such as “We will not let Laquan be covered up!” and “Anita Alavarez has got to go!,” the protesters demanded an end to mandatory minimum sentencing laws and urged the dismantlement of Cook County Jail.
Following the activists’ exit, IOP Executive Director Steve Edwards apologized to attendees for the interruption.
“We really wanted to have Anita Alvarez here so that we could give students the opportunity to dialogue with her,” Edwards said. “We have prided ourselves on creating a space where we have frank discussions.”
Prominent Hyde Park activist Veronica Morris Moore served as an organizer for Wednesday’s protest.
“We wanted to send a message to Alvarez,” Moore said following the demonstration. “The point of today was telling Alvarez that she’s not welcome in our communities.”
IOP Director David Axelrod issued a written response to Wednesday’s protest.
He said, “We are deeply disappointed that a group of protesters disrupted our event….with their disruptions, the protesters denied the audience the chance to put [the] tough questions to Alvarez. At a time when we are faced with deeply challenging issues, we at the IOP believe that we need more dialogue, not less.”