CHICAGO — Two volunteers collecting signatures outside a West Side polling place Friday accused a man associated with 28th Ward Ald. Jason Ervin’s organization of assaulting them on Election Day and stealing signed nominating petitions for one of the alderman’s challengers.
At a City Hall news conference, Loukessa Hawkins said she was collecting signatures for 28th Ward aldermanic candidate Justina L. Winfrey outside Spencer Technology Academy, 214 N. Lavergne Ave., when a man grabbed a half-filled petition sheet from her and several completed sheets and pamphlets from another volunteer.
“I put my clipboard and things I was holding to my chest and he began to snatch them out of my hand,” Hawkins said. “So, we were wrestling and I was like you’re not going to take my stuff and he said, ‘Gimme this ‘s’ and he snatched it down, hurting my thumb, and took it.”
Hawkins filed a police report after the incident that took place at noon on Tuesday.
“This was a direct violation of my rights,” Hawkins said, adding that she wants to see the man who assaulted her charged with a crime — as well as anyone who directed him to interfere with her efforts to get Winfrey on the ballot. “This is not how politics in Chicago should work.”
Everyone who works for Ervin’s “organization is routinely directed to be respectful and dignified in their dealings with the community,” said Tom Bowen, a spokesman for Ervin’s campaign. “We have no idea what happened here, we do not condone any violence of any sort in politics.”
Hawkins posted pictures of the man who assaulted her on her Facebook page, and Bowen said the man worked for Ervin’s organization more than two years ago.
“He has not [worked for the Ervin organization] since and won’t be in the future,” Ervin said.
Hawkins and the other volunteer called police and filed a report, which alleges “that as they were getting petitions signed for candidates, an unknown male offender took their petitions from them and fled scene,” according to a statement from Chicago Police Department spokeswoman Laura Amezaga. “Officers toured the area to locate the offender with negative results.”
Winfrey said she was appalled that her volunteers were assaulted.
“This was a violent act toward two women in front of a school while students were in the building,” Winfrey said. “I want justice to be served.”
Also running for 28th Ward alderman are Beverly Miles and Miguel Bautista. Bautista joined Winfrey at Friday’s news conference to decry all forms of political intimidation.