Some 15 months apart and in Jewel Food parking lots in both River Forest and Oak Park, white men have faced hate crime charges for their alleged actions against Black women. In one case felony charges were dropped last summer, replaced with a guilty plea to a misdemeanor. In the more recent case, court proceedings are just ramping up.
Felony charges were dropped against the man who accosted and appeared to attack a Black woman last year in the parking lot of the River Forest Jewel Osco grocery store. Cell phone footage of the incident, which occurred during the height of civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd, went viral across social media outlets.
River Forest resident Robert Palley, a notable real estate developer, was charged with one count of committing a hate crime and one count of aggravated battery by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office for the June 2020 incident.
Palley, who ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge, was sentenced to 18-months conditional discharge, 200 hours of community service and payment of court fees by Judge Geary Kull. The felony hate crime and aggravated battery charges were dropped. Kull issued the sentence on June 11, almost one year exactly after the event took place.
Conditional discharge is a lesser version of probation. The defendant is placed under the supervision of the court rather than under a probation officer. Wednesday Journal has reached out to Palley for comment on the ruling.
In the viral video, posted at 10:43 a.m., June 3, 2020, a man identified as Palley was walking to his car in the Jewel parking lot when the woman filming says, “I’m in Starbucks getting my coffee and this man calls me a Black bitch and tells me this is why everyone’s dying.”
Footage shows the man did not immediately respond to the woman, who then confronted him, asking, “Do you have anything to say for yourself now?”
The woman repeated the question two more times before Palley turned around, stared at her with his hand on his hips, then seemed to grab or swipe at the woman’s phone, which she was using to video record the incident.
“You touch me, I’m going to beat your ass,” the woman responded to him.
The video does not capture the events that followed, but it would appear as though a physical altercation broke out.
Amid sounds of struggling, the woman can be heard yelling, “Don’t f—–g touch me,” then, “Don’t f—–g put your hands on me!” The cell phone then seems to have fallen to the ground.
A man in the background is heard saying, “Hey, hey, hey,” in what might have been sounds of bystanders breaking up the apparent altercation.
Following an investigation by the River Forest Police Department and prosecutors, the Cook County Felony Review Unit recommended the felony charges against Palley, writing in a statement that the exchange between Palley and the woman “according to the victim and witnesses, was racially-motivated.”
A similar incident involving a Black woman allegedly being harassed by a man broke out in September at another Jewel Osco parking lot – this time at the grocery chain’s Oak Park location on Madison Street.
Oak Park resident Alberto Friedmann faces a hate crime charge and an aggravated assault charge after reportedly hurling racial slurs at a Black woman, spitting on her and attempting to hit her with his vehicle during a Sept. 17 altercation over parking. Friedmann will return to court Oct. 29 in Maywood.
Court documents state the woman, along with her 7-year-old daughter, was sitting in her vehicle, parked along the traffic lane between the parking aisles and the store, but not obstructing traffic, while waiting for the woman’s mother to finish shopping, when they heard Friedmann, 53, in a Jaguar honking and shouting from behind them at around 4:33 p.m.
Friedmann, according to the bond proffer from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, yelled, “Move your [expletive] car,” followed by a racial slur. When she motioned for Friedmann to drive around her, Friedmann reportedly exited his car and approached the woman’s vehicle, continuing to yell racial slurs at her and her young daughter.
He then repeatedly pushed her door closed, as she attempted to exit her vehicle, and spat in the woman’s face. The court document states that Friedmann then told the woman the reason he spat at her was because “he doesn’t like Black people.”
Once the woman exited her car, Friedmann then tried to hit her with his Jaguar, but narrowly missed her, according to the bond proffer.
The court filing states Friedmann then struck the rear driver’s side bumper and driver’s side front door of the woman’s car, causing damage, at which point witnesses began to intervene. Shortly after, Friedmann was taken into police custody.
This is the first arrest for Friedmann, whose LinkedIn page states he was a professor at the National University of Health Sciences and that he is “looking to continue making the lives of others better and helping to improve our country and our world.”
NBC reported Sept. 27 that Friedmann had tendered his resignation from the university. His LinkedIn profile appears to have been deleted.