Two Mount Prospect trustee candidates call for redesign of police patch

Two of the four candidates for Mount Prospect village trustee are calling for a redesign of the police department's controversial patch, which some have linked to imagery adopted by white supremacists and other extremists.

And another candidate is calling for one of those board hopefuls to withdraw from the race for using racial slur to make her point about the patch.

The candidates discussed the patch and other village issues during a recent interview with a representative of the Daily Herald editorial board.

Candidates Terri Gens and Peggy Pissarreck said they would support changing the patch out of respect for those who take issue with it. Gens praised police but said the issue is a symbol that is "terrifying a third of the population."

The patch features a black-and-white American flag with a blue stripe in the center. Police say the blue line honors officers who have died in the line of duty, as well as those who serve as the line between chaos and order.

But the same image has been seen at extremist gatherings, such as the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Several village residents have called for a change since the killing of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody last year.

Candidate Agostino "Augie" Filippone, a member of the village's planning and zoning commission, said he is open to further discussion of the patch, while write-in candidate Brian Maye said he would prefer educating the public about its true meaning rather than allowing it to be co-opted.

Gens stirred controversy of her own during the Daily Herald interview when she used a racial slur for Black people while discussing experiences of minority students at Prospect High School. She later said that in hindsight she should have said "the 'N' word" instead of the actual word.

"I was just so mortified that that word is still used. People have to stop using this word," she said. "People use this word to demean other people because of the color of their skin."

In the wake of her remark, Filippone is calling for Gens to withdraw from the race.

"While I do not believe there was ill-intent on the part of the candidate, I am concerned about how this candidate chose to use this particular word so flippantly," Filippone said in a written statement.

"The explicit use of such a racially (provocative) word, especially when answering a question about a racially (provocative) symbol, shows, at minimum, a serious lack of judgment and is unbecoming of what we expect from our village leadership," he added. "The candidate should withdraw."

Pissarreck came to Gens' defense, saying she used the word to illustrate a problem.

"She's talking about experience, and if it makes people uncomfortable to hear that phrase, it certainly makes me very uncomfortable to think that my neighbors and their kids are calling other children by that name." Pissarreck said. "I think she was using it as an example. She wasn't calling anybody that word."

Maye said he does not want to judge Gens but added that it was not necessary for her to use the word to make her point.

"I don't think there ever needs to be a reason to explicitly state it for context purpose," he said.

As for the patch, Maye said the village needs to explain the values and history behind the imagery.

"I think we can take a stand and educate people and make sure they know that this symbol represents the best in people, and it's something that we should get behind and challenge those individuals who are attempting to spread hate and violence, because that's not what the blue line represents," he said.

Upper from left, Terri Gens and Augie Filippone and, lower from left, Peggy Pissarreck and Brian Maye are candidates for the Mount Prospect village board.
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