On Tuesday, Black women activists engineered a huge victory in Chicago and Cleveland, but you may not know it from watching the national news.
As pundits droned on about which presidential candidates came out on top in Tuesday’s primaries, Black women, some of whom are queer and trans, were at the forefront of the movements that led to the ouster of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Cleveland’s top prosecutor Tim McGinty.
Alvarez, who botched the prosecution of Dante Servin, the officer who killed Rekia Boyd, also refused to indict police officers who were involved in the killings of at least 68 people. While people have been angry with her tough-on-crime, but easy-on-cops approach to justice for years, Alvarez became the target of the fierce #ByeAnita campaign after it took her more than a year to charge Jason Van Dyke with murder after dashcam video showed the officer shooting 17-year-old LaQuan McDonald 16 times. In Cleveland, McGinty became a target of protests when he failed to charge two officers for fatally shooting 12-year-old Tamir Rice just seconds after arriving on the scene.
Tuesday, both Alvarez and McGinty lost their bid to remain in office, a move directly attributed to the work of protesters.
— Ida's Disciple (@prisonculture) March 10, 2016
In Chicago, groups like Project Nia, Assata’s Daughters, and Black Youth Project 100, organized teach-ins, participated in train takeovers, flooded social media, and led protests to express their displeasure with Alvarez. And on election day, they turned out to the polls, handing Alvarez a 2-1 loss to her challenger Kim Foxx.
And as usual, Black women were at the forefront of the movement.
“I am gratified to see Alvarez defeated on the strength of organizing led by young Black queer women and other co-strugglers,” Mariame Kaba, founder of Project Nia, said.
After Alvarez’s defeat, members of Assata’s Daughters, a grassroots collective of radical Black women, released a video statement on Facebook about their efforts.
Our official statement on the States Attorney Race. #ByeAnita
Posted by Assata’s Daughters on Tuesday, March 15, 2016
In addition to protests, the group also led a powerful #16banners campaign, hanging huge signs around the city asking residents to vote out Alvarez at the polls.
— Monica Trinidad (@monicatea2) March 15, 2016
While Chicago’s rebuke of Alvarez has garnered most of the headlines because of its sheer size, organizers in Cleveland orchestrated a win of their own. Led in part by Elle Hearns, a Black trans woman who’s a part of the Black Lives Matter network, Black Lives Matter Cleveland, and members of Rice’s family, the anti-McGinty demonstrators overcame low voter turnout to get rid of the controversial prosecutor.
“Everyone was looking at Chicago, but Cleveland was a much smaller story,” dream hampton, a longtime activist, told CLUTCH. “The prosecutor was shown the door by a strong coalition of trans women from Black Lives Matter Cleveland.”
— BLM Cleveland (@BLM_216) March 16, 2016
History might not tell how @BLM_216 organizers made sure McGinty didn't get the votes necessary to be his party's candidate but we know! ✊🏾💗
— BrownBlaze (@brownblaze) March 16, 2016
hampton, who works with John Legend’s criminal justice reform group #FreeAmerica, called Tuesday “an amazing night,” and from the looks of the results, she was absolutely right.