Controversy rages over DuPage board member's actions at rally

  • Pete DiCianni

    Pete DiCianni

 
 
Updated 6/30/2020 8:21 PM

DuPage County Board member Pete DiCianni has become a lightning rod in the debate over policing and race after his actions Saturday at a pro-police rally in Elmhurst.

More than 150 people already have signed up to speak about the Elmhurst Republican at the county board's July 14 meeting after at least two Democrats called for his censure and a change.org petition calling for his resignation amassed more than 1,000 signatures. The online petition was started by a Hinsdale group supporting Black Lives Matter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

DiCianni, meanwhile, says he has been getting "tremendous support" since he confronted counterprotesters during the "Back the Blue" event outside the Elmhurst police station.

"People are very concerned for public safety in this county and want leaders who value that important role in our government," DiCianni said.

Fellow board members Elizabeth Chaplin and Mary FitzGerald Ozog are calling for DiCianni to be censured because of his behavior during the rally.

Chaplin said DiCianni showed a lack of respect for the safety of others by "yelling" at counterprotesters without wearing a mask during a pandemic.

"It can't go unchecked," the Downers Grove Democrat said Tuesday. "There has to be a consequence."

She also said DiCianni doesn't appear to appreciate what the Black Lives Matter movement is trying to achieve.

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In one video from the event, DiCianni is seen holding a homemade "We back police" sign and talking in defense of the Elmhurst Police Department.

"I was mayor of this town, and we have a great PD," DiCianni, who isn't wearing a mask, says to one of the counterprotesters. "We don't hurt people. We protect them."

In another video, DiCianni is seen going up to a woman who is holding a megaphone and saying something close to her face.

"Why in the world was member DiCianni putting himself right up into the face of protesters without wearing a mask?" Ozog wrote in a letter addressed to county board Chairman Dan Cronin.

The Glen Ellyn Democrat said Illinois residents are required to wear masks when social distancing isn't possible.

"To put his face right up to a protester was potentially very dangerous and should never have happened," said Ozog, noting that DiCianni is chairman of the county's health and human services committee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In addition to calling for DiCianni's censure, Ozog said she wants Cronin "to convene a board workshop on race, public safety and responsible social media use as soon as possible."

On Monday, Cronin said officials are trying to determine how to respond. However, he said, "I am offended by member DiCianni's behavior and the remarks made on social media."

In addition to what happened during the rally, Cronin is concerned about a Facebook post that says DiCianni responded crudely to an email from a resident demanding his resignation.

DiCianni was strongly criticized by several residents who submitted comments that were read during two county committee meetings on Tuesday.

Chaplin said she wants the county board to censure DiCianni when it next meets. A censure is essentially a public admonishment that carries no further penalties.

"We are not dropping this," she said.

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