The Crusader Newspaper Group

West Side leaders backing Harris for State’s Attorney

Clayton Harris III

A group of West Side faith leaders has endorsed Attorney Clayton Harris III for Cook County State’s Attorney. With a month to go before he squares off against former Chicago Alderman Bob Fioretti and former Appellate Judge Eileen O’Neil Burke in the March 19 Democratic Primary, Harris seeks to replace Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who is not seeking reelection after serving two terms in office.

During her terms in office, Foxx vacated nearly 250 wrongful conviction cases that occurred under disgraced Chicago police Sgt. Ronald Watts and Detective Reynaldo Guevara.

There is concern in the Black community that Foxx’s efforts to reform the criminal justice system will suffer after years of positive gains.

In her first term Foxx started what is now the Conviction Review Unit, which examines claims of wrongful convictions by individuals who maintain their innocence. The department was modeled after similar departments in prosecutor offices across the country.

There are concerns that wrongful conviction claims will become less of a priority as Chicago and suburbs in Cook County focus on fighting crime and prosecuting violent offenders.

On Monday, February 19, a group of pastors gathered at the Historic First Baptist Congregational Church, where they announced their support for Harris.

Reverend Ira Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church said, “Clayton Harris has emphasized the importance of community engagement and transparency. He’s the kind of leader who will work to build trust between law enforcement and the communities. He pledges to improve communication between prosecutors and the public, something that Kim Foxx initiated.”

Reverend Marshall Hatch of New Mount Pilgrim Church in West Garfield Park emphasized Harris’s commitment to fighting crime, public safety, and constitutional policing. He said “Attorney Clayton Harris enjoys increasingly great support from our communities for good reason; he stands for fighting crime, public safety, and constitutional policing. We demand and we can have both public safety and police accountability,”

Harris’s latest endorsement came after the Chicago Tribune endorsed Burke for the Democratic Primary. In 2020, the Tribune endorsed Bill Conway who lost to Foxx in the Democratic Primary.

Burke has come under fire after reports emerged that she prosecuted a Black 10-year-old boy when she was a prosecutor in the Cook County State’s office in 1994. Known as AM in court documents, the boy was convicted of killing a white woman, but the case was thrown out by a federal judge who ruled that the boy was interrogated without the presence of his parents or an objective adult.

“I’m ready to do all in my power to help get Attorney Clayton Harris elected to this office because his opponent is bad news for our community and will set us back six decades,” said Pastor Cornelius Parks of Good Hope Freewill Baptist Church.

At the press conference Monday, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle officially endorsed Harris, whom she encouraged to run to replace Foxx, her mentee.

“I’m very proud of the slate that you’ll hear from today, and I want you to know that when we met in August, each of these candidates was supported overwhelmingly by the Party. These were not narrow choices. They were supported overwhelmingly by the Party. And I think that’s a reflection of the breadth of support that they enjoy in the Party and their strength individually as candidates,” Preckwinkle said.

Preckwinkle played a key role in bringing the Laquan McDonald case to light. After the Black teenager was brutally shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke in 2014, Preckwinkle told a journalist about McDonald’s bullet-ridden corpse in the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. The journalist, Jaime Kalven, reported the murder before a Cook County judge ordered a dash cam video of the shooting to be released after the city kept the footage under wraps.

While in office, Foxx said Cook County remains the “false confession capital of the U.S.” with innocent Black and Latino men being forced to admit to crimes under corrupt Chicago police.

+ posts

Recent News

Scroll to Top