A political fundraiser hosted by Oak Lawn’s Village Attorneys for Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez brought Chicago politics to Oak Lawn with “Laquan McDonald” protesters disrupting the event resulting in the Oak Lawn police being called in an effort to disperse the crowd.
Tuesday night, Village Attorneys from the firm Peterson, Johnson and Murray gathered with friends at Reilly’s Daughter in Oak Lawn to help Alvarez raise campaign money for her re-election effort. The law firm solicited support for Alvarez at what they called a St. Patrick’s Day Party for a minimum contribution of $100 with some people paying $1,000 to be named “host”. The protest was peaceful but multiple police officers were dispatched to the scene nonetheless and protesters were told that they had to move resulting in a peaceful disagreement with an unidentified Oak Lawn officer. All of it was caught on video.
The law firm, which is primarily based in Wisconsin has a Chicago office that houses the attorneys who serve the Village of Oak Lawn.
Paul O’Grady, the village’s principal attorney, was in attendance Tuesday night along with other members of the firm, including Pat Connelly, who also serves the village. The firm was appointed as the Village Attorney after O’Grady left Querry and Harrow, another Chicago firm. O’Grady and the firm do not have any other municipal clients in which they serve as the Village Attorney. However, O’Grady is a “special assistant State’s Attorney” in Cook County and defends Cook County in civil rights lawsuits.
O’Grady is also the Orland Township Supervisor but the party took place in Oak Lawn, rather than Orland Park, with protesters chanting that Alvarez is corrupt and counting from one to sixteen to signify the sixteen times that Laquan McDonald was shot by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke.
The police dash cam video showed McDonald walking down South Pulaski Road with a knife in his hand, but strolling away from officers. Van Dyke arrived, pulled his gun and began firing six seconds after arriving on scene. It took only 15 seconds to fire 16 shots. Protesters, including those present in Oak Lawn Tuesday night, complain that Alvarez only indicted Van Dyke after the release of the video.
The protest appeared to have affected the State’s Attorney’s ability to raise funds or at least attract public support, as several views into the party showed a very small crowd. However, over the screams of the protesters, you can hear Alvarez thank Paul O’Grady during her speech inside.
The lawyers have been considered controversial and involved in Oak Lawn politics with strong ties to former Village Trustee Tom Phelan and Oak Lawn’s Mayor Sandra Bury. The law firm was featured in an investigation by the Oak Lawn Leaf that found the firm asking political questions in depositions and using the legal process to investigate the Oak Lawn Leaf’s owner. The firm never responded to our inquiries regarding their use of the legal process at taxpayers’ expense.
Alvarez is running in a three way race against Kim Foxx, who is endorsed by the Democratic Party, and Donna More.