JEFFERSON PARK — A Far Northwest Side man with white supremacist affiliations was charged for spray-painting swastikas and racist prison gang symbols on two Jefferson Park businesses last week.
Brodie Blakeslee, 57, who lives behind the businesses in the 4700 block of N. London Avenue, was charged with two felony counts of a hate crime and held on a $20,000 bail, Cook County prosecutors said at a Sunday bond hearing.
Last week, black swastikas were painted on Supreme Smoke Shop, 4766 N. Milwaukee Ave. and on the back door of Cannabist, a neighboring dispensary at 4758 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Blakeslee was caught on Cannabist’s surveillance video spray-painting the smoke shop but told detectives he did not remember tagging Cannabist, according to prosecutors. He told detectives he wanted to let Black Lives Matter supporters know the neighborhood was “protected,” prosecutors said.
Both businesses, which are owned and managed by people of color, have had signs supporting Black Lives Matter in their windows on and off since 2020, business representatives told Block Club.
Blakeslee was arrested Thursday close to his home after Arcan Abuhashish, owner of Supreme Smoke Shop, saw him walking in the area, police and Abuhashish said.
Blakeslee admitted to tagging “AW” on the smoke shop’s back door next to a swastika, telling police “AW is short for Aryan Warrior, his prison gang,” prosecutors said. He also said that the “swastika represents white reunification.”
The man has several Aryan Warrior and swastika tattoos, according to prosecutors, neighbors and pictures on his Facebook page.
Blakeslee previously served ten years in a Nevada prison for burglary, six years in California for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and received probation in 2017 for aggravated assault in Chicago, according to prosecutors. He was also charged with assault in 2021, according to his arrest history.
Abuhashish said he used to have a good relationship with Blakeslee. He used to wash the shop’s windows and walk Abuhashish’s dog while the owner was working, he said.
But their working relationship “went sour” in 2020, when Abuhashish’s dog bit someone and had to be euthanized, he said. Blakeslee, who had developed a close attachment to the dog, broke into the shop to try and steal him, the smoke shop owner said.
In the wake of the George Floyd protests and Black Lives Matter uprisings in 2020, Abuhashish put up a Black Lives Matter inside his shop to show solidarity. A few days before the jury found the officer who killed Floyd guilty, Blakeslee came by the shop and threatened Abuhashish, he said.
“He told me [someone] was going to bust my windows,” Abuhashish said Wednesday. “He didn’t say it would be him but he wanted to show me [his] power.”
The verbal harassment continued for a few months, and employees at the dispensary were called racial slurs when Blakeslee walked by, Abuhashish said.
A few months later, Abuhashish said Blakeslee tried to assault him outside the shop. He filed a police report and did not see Blakeslee for about eight months until he spotted him last week after the swastika incident, he said.
“He doesn’t care — his motto is ‘I got bond money,’ like he is above the law,” the owner said.
If Blakeslee is able to post at least 10 percent of his bail, he is ordered to have no contact with the victims and needs to stay in his home from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., Cook County State’s Attorney spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said. He remained in the county jail as of Wednesday, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.
Neighbors also believe Blakeslee was the man who threatened them with a pitchfork after a Northwest Side protest in support of Black Lives Matter that took place near his home.
After the protest ended, a few neighbors and their children walked on Giddings with their protest signs and t-shirts, multiple neighbors told Block Club. A man was yelling “White Lives Matter” and after shouting a racial slur at the passersby, one of the neighbors stopped to confront him.
The man “brandished his pitchfork, which we convinced him to put down … and then he whipped his shirt off revealing several tattoos, one of which was a giant swastika across his torso,” said Rebecca, who witnessed the incident but did not want her last name published due to privacy concerns.
“It was very clear” he was drunk and wanted to show his tattoos and assert his dominance, she said.
Members of the Northwest Side Jewish community and Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th) have condemned the hate crimes, which have risen locally and nationally recently, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Such incidents rose 34 percent in 2021 over the previous year, according to the organization.
Last month, a man was seen on video giving a Nazi salute before scrawling racist images outside an Avondale restaurant. Jewish institutions in West Ridge were vandalized and tagged with Nazi imagery earlier this year.