Oak Lawn protest shuts down Fire & Police Commission meeting; village claims no communication from state’s attorney’s office – Chicago Tribune newstrendslive

Audience shouts and chants criticizing Oak Lawn police broke at Wednesday night’s meeting of the village’s Fire & Police Commission led to an abrupt end of the meeting.

The crowded Village Hall was filled with people who accuse three Oak Lawn officers of brutality and discrimination in the July 27 arrest of a 17-year-old who fled police during a traffic stop and with people who support the officers’ actions.

The meeting’s agenda included routine matters, such as approving invoices and promotions, but it was held the same day Oak Lawn police Officer Patrick O’Donnell pleaded not guilty in Cook County Circuit Court to aggravated battery and official misconduct for his role in the arrest of the Bridgeview teenager.

Video from a police patrol car dashboard camera and a passerby’s phone recorded parts of the arrest including the teen being struck by police as he was held on the ground.

A grand jury indicted O’Donnell, 32, Feb. 14, after the Illinois State Police reviewed what happened and prepared a report.

Several Oak Lawn police officers and others guard and block media from fellow police Officer Patrick O’Donnell as he exits the Leighton Criminal Courthouse following his arraignment Wednesday.

In a written statement, Oak Lawn officials said they had received no official information about the report or the indictment.

“We contacted the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office multiple times, including twice in writing, to request information, including the report they received from the IL State Police in January,” the village’s statement read. The state police report “presumably” led to the indictment, the village stated, “but again that’s speculation because the State’s Attorney is not communicating with the Village.”

The statement said village officials also contacted state police requesting a copy of the report, but said they were referred us back to the state’s attorney’s office.

“Our only hope is that seeking justice and applying fairness are the only motivators involved in this matter,” the statement concludes.

Mark Kuehner said the group Southsiders for Peace will continue to protest in Oak Lawn until the Police Department’s use of violence and abuse stops.

The day after the arrest, Oak Lawn police Chief Daniel Vittorio said he supported his officers and said the force they used was justified because they feared the then 17-year-old had a weapon. Officers found a pistol and ammunition in the shoulder bag the teenager wore across his chest after he was taken into custody.

The teen has been charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful possession of a firearm.

At Wednesday’s Fire and Police Commission meeting, at least 25 people had signed up to speak, but the first person started showing a video montage of police encounters from other cities that turned deadly when someone shot at or attacked an officer. The man introduced the video by saying if people would just obey the laws and obey the police, people would not get hurt.

Police used a metal-detecting wand to check for weapons on people attending an Oak Lawn Fire and Police Commission meeting.

Each person during public comments is allotted three minutes to speak, but the next couple of speakers allocated their time to continue showing the man’s video montage.

That led to other audience members complaining that public comment is not for showing videos.

Rania Salem, of Orland Park, said showing video from traffic stops across the country is not relevant to what happened in Oak Lawn July 27.

“How about we show the video of (the 17-year-old) being beaten by the cops,” shouted Ghada Morrar. “There are lots of videos we can show against Black and brown people.”

Commission Chairman John Rolence urged members of the audience not to yell or use profanity.

“We can be civil folks. We can do it,” Rolence said.

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But some people, holding signs that read “Convict O’Donnell” with a photo of a police officer, continued to shout “shut down the video,” and yell pejoratives.

The seven-member commission then voted to adjourn the meeting due to “a lack of order,” Rolence said.

As people filed out of Village Hall, they chanted, “We’ll be back.”

About 25 people called for all three Oak Lawn police officers to be charged in the arrest of a Bridgeview teenager last July during a protest Wednesday outside Oak Lawn Village Hall.

Before the meeting, about 25 people representing the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, Southsiders for Peace, the U.S. Palestinian Community Network, Rainbow PUSH Coalition and other groups protested outside Oak Lawn Village Hall. They called for not only O’Connell to be indicted and convicted, but also demanded two other Oak Lawn officers involved in the arrest be charged, convicted and fired.

“It’s not enough for one adult to be held accountable. All three have to be held accountable,” said Muhammad Sankari, the lead organizer for the Arab American Action Network.

After the meeting ended, Sankari urged people to contact Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and to attend O’Connell’s April 6 court date, noting police were in court for O’Donnell’s Wednesday arraignment.

“Over 50 uniformed Oak Lawn police officers showed up, so people who oppose police brutality must show up in even greater numbers,” Sankari said.

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