Oak Park, West Side leaders speak out on attack on Live Cafe

Cafe is campaign HQ for Black candidates for Oak Park board

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By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

UPDATED: An earlier version of this story misspelled Reesheda Graham-Washington's name. It has been corrected.


Surrounded by community members and broadcast news cameras, Live Café owner Reesheda Graham-Washington spoke Thursday about the recent racist attack on her Oak Park Avenue business, where someone attempted to throw a brick carrying a racial slur through the café's window, causing it minor physical damage.

"Our souls are damaged by this offense," said Graham-Washington told the masked crowd. "This damage, this harm – it sits in the seat alongside 401 years of trauma."

The paper-wrapped brick was discovered early Wednesday morning outside Live Café. Scrawled on the paper were the words "No n — on the ballot."

Oak Park police continue to investigate the incident.

Live Café is serving as the campaign headquarters of Black village trustee candidates Juanta Griffin, Anthony Clark and Chibuike Enyia. Clark and Enyia both face challenges to their candidacies. The attack's timing lined up with Clark and Enyia's electoral board objection hearing, which took place Wednesday afternoon. At the same moment, insurrectionists descended on Washington, D.C., taking over the capitol building for several hours.

At the press conference, Graham-Washington referenced the attack on the Capitol and President Donald Trump while asking the public to consider those in the community who fail to condemn unsavory and racist acts committed at home. 

"Just as Trump was the perpetrator of yesterday's incidents complicitly," she said, "I would encourage you to think about who the complicit perpetrators of yesterday's events are."

Graham-Washington asked people to financially contribute to organizations that promote racial equity and to support Black-owned businesses to redistribute wealth and power. A GoFundMe campaign started yesterday by a community member in support of Live Café's anti-racist mission has already accumulated about half of its $10,000 goal.

"We don't have systemic racism on our side to put the things in our hands," said Graham-Washington.

Clark and Enyia attended the press conference, as well. Griffin, who is recovering from surgery, was unable to attend, but told Wednesday Journal she was saddened not to "be with my people right now." 

In his address to the crowd, Clark called racism a viral pandemic, but one with a widely available vaccine: anti-racism.

"It is not enough to not be racist," said Clark. "You have to be anti-racist."

Clark said the racist ideologies perpetuated by the insurgents that stormed the Capitol building started at home, started with vandalism in the community and, in a nod to his own campaign situation, "it started with challenges to Black candidates and communities that are pushing for change."

Enyia asked the crowd not to cower or be intimidated, but to speak out against racism and in support of those who others try to silence because of their skin color.

"This happens over and over again, because people don't speak up," Enyia said. "Because the people who have the most ability to help us out feel that we should do this ourselves."

Multiple religious leaders, including Rabbi Max Weiss of Oak Park Temple B'nai Abraham Zion and Austin's Rev. Marshall Hatch of New Mount Pilgrim Church, spoke out in support of Graham-Washington and Black political candidates, even as they condemned racism and hatred. 

"An attack on Live is an attack on all of us," said Weiss. "It is an attack on the values that bind us together. It must be met with the forces of justice and the forces of love."

Hatch referenced the attack on Capitol Hill during his address to the crowd, using it as an example of the negative consequences that occur when hatred is appeased. 

Organizer Makesha Flournoy, an organizer with Black Residents of Oak Park, told the crowd that it wasn't by happenstance that the brick was found on the same day as Clark and Enyia's objection hearings. Graham-Washington and Flournoy are both members of the coalition backing Griffin, Clark and Enyia's trustee runs.

Flournoy also called out Kevin Peppard, the person who filed the petition challenges. Referring to him as a "joker," Flournoy reminded the crowd that Peppard filed challenges in 2016 against two incumbent Black trustees, Glenn Brewer and Peter Barber, causing them to lose their seats. 

A vigil is being held outside Live Café at 5 p.m., Thursday night. According to Graham-Washington, the vigil is a moment for healing.

"We're not going to be able to address our problem, our pervasive, racist, misogynistic, oppressive problem that we are addicted to until we come out of denial," she said.

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Reader Comments

39 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Comment Policy

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: January 12th, 2021 9:17 AM

I just reread the "Declaration of Conscience" written by Republican Margaret Chase Smith opposing Rep. McCarthy during the 1950s. Some words live on.

Tom Clarkson  

Posted: January 11th, 2021 12:45 PM

Voter turnout for these local elections is notoriously low. I hope most of us can agree that there is a history of corruption or incompetence in Illinois politics. Put the two together and I think a lot of O.P. residents like having some objective background criteria for making decisions with our tax dollars. If you don't believe in checking criminal background and residency, what objective criteria would you propose. Instead of blasting the current process, perhaps give some insight about what objective standards we should use for everyone. Otherwise your objections and explaining away for one-off cases come off as agenda.

Ed Egan  

Posted: January 11th, 2021 12:45 PM

Tom, those criticisms are based on public actions Mr. Pennard has taken against political figures. In doing so, he has made himself a public figure.

Andy Moss  

Posted: January 11th, 2021 12:44 PM

Comment threads on these articles are great for identifying all the assholes in Oak Park and the surrounding communities.

Tom Clarkson  

Posted: January 11th, 2021 12:30 PM

C'mon man Ed...before you enjoy your mic drop moment regarding insults look at your post from 1:24 yesterday where you call Mr. Peppard a relic from the past who enjoys his feelings of superiority and is an indecent person for not dropping challenges he believes in for whatever his reasons. Do you think your insults have been part of instructive dialogue.

Ed Egan  

Posted: January 11th, 2021 12:28 PM

Tom, that is a fair point and thank you for remaining civil. Sorry your comment got lost in the mix. I have no way of knowing for certain, but taxes aren't simple, and it is possible the listed address was an honest mistake as his living situation may have changed due to the pandemic. Regardless, this whole situation has forced me to be more civically engaged locally, and the more I learn about Mr. Clark, the more it is clear regardless of his residency that he is an actively engaged steward, teacher, and leader in our community. I stand by my claim that the right thing to do is to drop the challenges. In the event they aren't, I hope the truth regardless of outcome is made public on the timeline of Mr. Clark's residency.

Ed Egan  

Posted: January 11th, 2021 11:46 AM

Insults and libel are against the Journal's Comment policy. Have a great day!

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: January 11th, 2021 9:58 AM

Ed Egan you mention that we have many immoral laws in our Country. Two wrongs do not make a right and the ends never justify to means if we want a decent society. You mention that any decent human being would drop the charges after a hate crime. One does not have anything to do with the other and it still has not been proven there was a hate crime. This is not about the incident, this is about someone who either has or has not the legal right to run for trustee. That is what's being challenged. It appears that the Cafe took advantage of the incident that happened just hours before the Electoral Board was to meet. The Cafe was ready with advertising, the community leaders gathered and a gofundme page was set up when there was no reported damage. I would have put my efforts into requesting additional Patrols, and adding video surveillance. This incident has made it now in my opinion very difficult for the Electoral Board, after one on the board already experienced an incident last year. We have to maintain laws or we are going to lose what many have sacrificed their lives for and that includes the right that all people are treated fairly. I hope that the Electoral Board will be able to focus on just what is being presented

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 11th, 2021 9:06 AM

My last comment here on this issue. There are three indisputable, documented facts: Anthony Clark has, one, taken a home owner's exemption on the Lombard property he purchased four years ago. Two, Clark stated unequivocally and under oath that he lived at the Lombard, IL address. Three, Clark told the Wednesday Journal he "never lived" at the Lombard IL address. Kevin Peppard didn't make those statements. Anthony Clark did.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: January 11th, 2021 8:56 AM

Ed - you asked what the false statements were that Mr Clark made. When you pay your property tax you are declaring where you live. So apparently he says he lives in Lombard to the tax man. Others are digging into it now, as they should. Having any person be in charge of our taxes while they can't follow the rules on their own is not what we need or want in local leadership. Mr. Peppard is doing us all a service by exposing this activity. And decent people don't lie about where they live, while running for office in the place they do not live.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 11th, 2021 8:55 AM

Ed, I'm beginning to think you don't need to play dumb, that it just comes naturally to you. Kevin Peppard isn't going to "allow" anyone to do anything. An Electoral Board comprised of three elected officials will decide whether Clark and Enyia will be on the ballot. And your suggestion that the petition challenge law is "immoral" is just ridiculous.There's a process underway. Let it play out, including the investigation into the brick vandalism.

Ed Egan  

Posted: January 11th, 2021 8:29 AM

Holy hell, are you playing dumb? I did not share that insight into my life to brag or get praise. I gave you anecdotal and statistical evidence that disproves the notion that Anthony Clark *couldn't possibly* be living at home with his parents for concern of their health. Just because someone has the ability to do something under the law, doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. We have many immoral laws in our society. Any decent human being would drop the challenges after the HATE CRIME, and Kevin Peppard should allow the voters to decide.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: January 10th, 2021 4:48 PM

Ed Egan that is very nice you are helping your parents. You mentioned let the voters decide. This is not a case about voting, this is about validity and Mr. Peppard has a legal right to challenge. Now lets work with hypotheticals. Do you protest if the 3 hearing the case rule against what you want or do you accept it and follow the law or do you do what happened at the U.S. Capitol in the United State's of America, because I just do not understand what has happened to this Country when I read about micro groups on both sides who no longer think we have laws and that is appalling for the Men and Woman who served and are currently serving and the future of people serving to protect the United State's of America. People are being manipulated and no longer are challenging if a law is right or wrong. It has turned into violent protests. The U.S. Capitol was under siege and a U.S. Capitol Police Officer lost his life defending the United State's of America, and I think there are hateful groups that consider that a victory for their own cause

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: January 10th, 2021 4:21 PM

Ed Egan regardless of what Kevin Peppard's reasoning, he has the right to do what he is doing. You mention the hate crime that happened in the community. I am not sure what hate crime. If you are referring to a brick with a note on it, this newspaper and the Oak Park Police have not determined if it is a hate crime. Who knew the location was the headquarters for the two individuals running for trustee. Maybe you knew although I do not think many knew. You have to keep an open mind and wait. If you recall the Oklahoma destruction, people were accusing another Country. President Clinton asked the country to be patient as they investigate it. It never was another country. When did so much hate come to Oak Park since I have never recalled it ever being at this level

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: January 10th, 2021 4:11 PM

Jason Cohen You mention all of the Oak Park hate. You seem to indicate that people who do not agree with you that they must hate. Research back and find out when the talk of hate started in Oak Park. Everything has a start. Oak Park has never had this much hate so something is happening. For people to follow a way of thinking, there needs to be the thinking first put into place. Just name the time the hate started in Oak Park

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 10th, 2021 3:46 PM

I've made clear what the false statement Clark made is - three times, Ed. If you still need clarification, that's not my problem. And defending the legal right of people to challenge nominating petitions does not mean I don't respect the elective process. As I noted already, Barack Obama utilized it against four rivals. And btw, what young people are going through in this pandemic has nothing to do with challenging nominating petitions, any more than my personally having had Covid does. Which, again, doesn't mean I done sympathize. with people's real suffering.

Ed Egan  

Posted: January 10th, 2021 2:53 PM

Do you have any idea what it's like being a young person in today's system during a Pandemic? The majority of young people have multiple places they reside, but are likely to be living with their parents due to health concerns for their parents, such as myself. Here's a Pew study that supports this, because unlike yourself, I'm precise with my language and cite my sources: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/09/04/a-majority-of-young-adults-in-the-u-s-live-with-their-parents-for-the-first-time-since-the-great-depression/ . I have a great job, yet am living at home with my 70+ parents to ensure they minimize their points of contact outside and can be able to witness my sisters celebrating their weddings. What were the false statements? So, you do not agree with letting voters decide elections? Could you clarify which aspects of my comment you disagree with? And my earlier question still stands, if The information from those sites were so infallible, why are they unable to be presented in the hearing as evidence?

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 10th, 2021 2:39 PM

Ok... Eddie. I read your statement. And I disagree with it. So my "worldview," as you put it, stands. Peppard is only doing what hundreds of people have done before. First, investigating the backgrounds of candidates for elective office and two, objecting to their nominating petitions as a citizen. Clark made false statements, which you'd know if you yourself had bothered to look beyond your own comfortable "worldview." He lied either in his sworn filing in federal court or to the newspaper. Free advice to Anthony- acknowledge lying to the Journal. Newspapers can put people under oath.

Ed Egan  

Posted: January 10th, 2021 2:34 PM

I forgot to include, if the information from those sites is Pennard's golden ticket, why is the information unable to be used as evidence in the hearing?

Ed Egan  

Posted: January 10th, 2021 2:18 PM

Okay Willie, it's clear you've found a conclusion that fits into your worldview, and you'll continue to find any means to reinforce what you believe, and back up your buddy. Good job on ignoring the rest of my statement. Let. The. Voters. Decide.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 10th, 2021 2:02 PM

And Ed? Peppard's "low-grade online information" on Anthony Clark is from the Federal court system's PACER website. From a federal bankruptcy lawsuit. You've an odd idea of "low grade" info. As for Mr. Enyia, he can clear up any possible misunderstanding or misinformation by releasing the records. I for one would like to hear from him.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: January 10th, 2021 1:58 PM

Ya know, Jason, really. This "all you haters" stuff from people like you has gone from nonsensical to just absurd. If you want a demonstration of hate, watch cable news' coverage of the Capital insurrection and a cop actually getting beaten to death on camera, by a mob. THat's hate. Most of what you complain about here is merely people disagreeing with you. The right has some really rancid people who need to be imprisoned for 10 or 20 years. But the left has too many clownish types who can't seem to ever find the proper words (defund rather than reallocate) to describe their POV. People disagreeing with you, however ardently or even rudely, is not hate. It's simply the messiness of democracy. And you support democracy, right?

Jason Cohen  

Posted: January 10th, 2021 1:51 PM

@Ed, very well said. How about we just let the voters decide the outcome? I know that's an unpopular idea for some these days but the info is now out so let's let the people have their say via vote.

Ed Egan  

Posted: January 10th, 2021 1:24 PM

The hate crime committed was an attack on our entire community. @Kevin Peppard's continued harassment against these candidates after learning about the hate crime is reprehensible. The substance of his challenges is public knowledge, and he should allow the voters to decide who belongs on our village board. Not everyone has the time to do background checks on shoddy personal background sites, file paperwork and appear in village hearings. At least, not the average Oak Parker. Kevin Peppard is an ideological relic of the past and he concludes candidates that are ideologically opposed to him are unfit for office, and *then* he goes scrapping the bottom of the barrel in terms of information online. He enjoys his feeling of superiority as he gets an early veto on candidates before the general public. Any decent person would drop the challenges and allow the election to be based on merit and policy, not low-grade online information.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: January 10th, 2021 1:24 PM

@Ada, I like the made up personal attacks. Solid move. I see you've learned from Trump and FoxNews. We can't all be winners like you guys. I will take my new fake drug habit and reflect on your insightful posts. I will also increase my vitamin intake to try to reach Mensa level 47 like Kitty. Lots to think about today.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: January 10th, 2021 1:15 PM

I love you guys! The bummer is I actually vote here unlike Kitty so her opinion isn't going to do much for all of you that love her OP hate so much. I don't pay attention to anyone who posts on here who's not from here so nice try to get me to admit I like one post over the other. The exception is Dan because this is is his media enterprise so that would be silly. Enjoy all your OP hate everyone. It's fun to read all the "get off my lawn posts" from all the old grumpy OP haters. I am sure the 7 of you will have a big impact on voters come April.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: January 10th, 2021 11:15 AM

More Kitty, less Jason

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: January 10th, 2021 12:12 AM

This story could use some update. The original goal of 10 thousand has been changed to 20 thousand and the cause has added in supporting all of the candidates. The extra good news is it has reached over 20 thousand in donations so the good work can continue of change can continue. You can learn where to support the other candidates at the gofundme link https://gofund.me/eb80306c

Leslie Sutphen from Oak Park  

Posted: January 9th, 2021 11:08 PM

Jason Cohen, there are many nonresidents who post on the Wednesday Journal including Dan Haley the Owner and Editor and ShaRonda Knott-Dawson who has a lot to say but who has never lived here. Is perhaps your problem that Kitty does not agree with you and is particularly well reasoned in her disagreement?

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: January 9th, 2021 11:06 PM

I don't want Kitty out of any conversation - regardless of whether she lives here our not. She loves this community. And she's worked harder...and probably still does - to point out a lot of things which would have gone unnoticed without her vigilant eye. She is a very fair woman...and I personally feel grateful that she chimes in. Don't be a hater Jason b/c she's smarter than you, and her reasoning comes across as sounder. You - on the other hand - sound as if you may have experimented in way too many drugs back when that was the thing. Allegedly, you may or may not have - or whatever else I need to say to put me in the clear. Regardless, you thrive on this shite show - and i find it sad.

Bert Fischer  

Posted: January 9th, 2021 11:01 PM

My bike was stolen from my garage last week. So obviously a candlelight vigil at my house tonight and of course give me cash please. That should stop the bike thieves. I'm having a press conference. Vote for my friends who were secretly running a campaign out of my garage that no one knew about. Fill the paper with pictures of me and stop talking about the scandals those campaigns are caught up in. If you don't you are racist. This is a perfectly reasonable way to react to a traumatic event so please nobody question it. The irony of people like Arti and Anthony Clark standing at that podium calling for peace after years of spewing hate in our village is not lost on me. Mayor's house attacked - Arti's revolutionaries. Kids jumping up on desks at village hall- same army. This is a real dream team of morality. How much money do I have to give to reach enlightenment level of anti-racism? Im excited to see how anti-racist our town will be with this $20,000. Imagine all the anti-racism. How many cups of coffee do I need to buy or how many candles do I need to light or hearts do I need to put in the window to make sure no one is racist anymore? If I donate to the gofundme will the brick thrower change his mind? Is it like a carebear stare? No one has used more words to say nothing than this group. They have no idea what they want, but give them enough money and power and they will figure it out. Brick with racist words = bad. Find me a person who disagrees in Oak Park because I've never met one. What is the point of this circus if it isn't grandstanding? Racism awareness? It's Oak Park - we are good on that front. Now everyone proceed to pretend like this whole situation isn't fishy out of fear of being chased out of town by our woke and incredibly understanding neighbors.

Lopez Ramona  

Posted: January 9th, 2021 9:43 PM

Jason, Really now? Are you now part of the "woke" crowd with your childish attempt to shame Kitty out of this conversation? Scared you may learn something or hear the truth?

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: January 9th, 2021 6:11 PM

Kitty Conklin welcome to accepting Oak Park. Oh wait, Jason Cohen says you do not live here anymore.... Get off this comment board. You are not one of us. We only want people who are all the same. Yes, a Village known as welcoming only if you are willing to follow

Kitty Conklin  

Posted: January 9th, 2021 5:30 PM

Jason Cohen, you aren't trying to stop free speech, in the press, on a public board are you?

Jason Cohen  

Posted: January 9th, 2021 5:06 PM

@Kitty, last time I checked you don't even live in this state anymore. Why don't you move on already and find some local boards where you live to post on? Your opinion is no longer relevant. You aren't a resident. You left because it was so terrible here so why the constant obsession with posting here and on FB? It's bizarre.

Kitty Conklin  

Posted: January 9th, 2021 2:49 PM

Last time I checked, it's who the voters vote for that results in a winner and losers in elections. Nothing else causes an outcome.

Kevin Peppard  

Posted: January 8th, 2021 4:08 PM

I join with Village President and Electoral Board Chair Anan Abu-Taleb in denouncing the brick thrown with a hate message. This matter is not about race and will be decided on the relevant law and facts. Since Live Caf%uFFFD is situated in a dense business district, hopefully the Oak Park Police can learn from video surveillance cameras who did this.

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: January 8th, 2021 3:47 PM

It took just over an hour after this story was published for someone to come on here and claim that Kevin Peppard was the victim.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: January 7th, 2021 5:31 PM

Good story and a lot of community support from leaders. In all fairness, the writer should have mentioned or contacted Kevin Peppard to verify if he just has called out Black's running for a position on the board. Kevin Peppard wrote before that he helped Black people run for trustee and he also has not just called out Black people he wrote. He has had his share of calling out White people, too. I do not think that makes him a "Joker"

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