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Local News

Bolingbrook officials release photos of attack on mayor's home, property

Bolingbrook officials release photos of attack on mayor’s home, property

Photos of the vandalism committed a year and a half ago at Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar’s home show a spray-painted message on his garage calling him a “Nazi Trump lover.”

At the end of Claar’s driveway was another spray-painted message calling him a white nationalist. Attached to the license plate of a car on Claar’s driveway was a sign claiming that he not only supports Donald Trump, but also all of the president’s “racist, sexist, bigoted decisions.”

On a door was a message saying, “Trump Lover” with a swastika between the words. At least seven swastikas either were painted or inked on Claar’s property.

On Claar’s mailbox was a written message: “Do you want a mayor who thinks its [sic] acceptable to vote and support a candidate who is a known sexual predator and outspoken racist and sexist? This is our town. No room for Nazi scum here.”

The vandalism was carried out by Rae Tuszynski, 30, of Bolingbrook, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to threatening a public official, criminal damage to property and committing a hate crime against Claar for what a criminal indictment described as his “actual or perceived creed.”

Carole Cheney, spokeswoman for the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office, said the hate crime was based on Claar’s “political belief system,” declining to further elaborate.

“Based on the conduct of the defendant ... it was an attack on someone’s political system,” Cheney said.

She referred questions about Claar’s politics to Claar himself. Claar failed to respond.

Claar has been outspoken about his support for Trump and held a private fundraiser in 2016 for him at the Bolingbrook Golf Club, nicknamed the “Rog Mahal” after the mayor.

Bolingbrook officials and the state’s attorney’s office initially refused to release photos of the vandalism. The photos finally were released after The Herald-News filed a second Freedom of Information Act request.

Claar said in an email that he found it “very disappointing” that The Herald-News would publish the photos.

“To serve the public is very difficult in this day and age, and to wake up one morning to find your house trashed while you were asleep inside is very troublesome to anyone, including me. You, of course, will never experience that since you hide behind a barrel of ink,” Claar said.

Tuszynski was in jail for three months in 2017. He was released after pleading guilty but was jailed again Dec. 18 for failing to appear in court.

Prosecutors moved to revoke his probation after he failed to complete 100 hours of community service, possessed drugs and tested positive for marijuana, according to a petition. He also has unpaid court costs and restitution in the amount of $5,815, having so far paid only $55.

Hate crime legislation was passed by Congress in 1968 in response to the “wave of violence that was occurring in response to the civil rights movement,” according to the book “Hate Crimes” by Tom Streissguth.

Creed is one of 10 protected statuses under Illinois law, which includes race and gender. Yet it’s not defined as a political belief system. Cheney said creed can go beyond religion and refer to belief systems in general. She also argued that a person doesn’t have to be part of a protected class to be a victim of a hate crime.

Tuszynski has said he was bothered the most by the hate crime conviction. He said he didn’t know Trump supporters “were a protected class.”

“With all due respect, I’m a transgender Puerto Rican, and you [have a] hate crime against an old white man,” Tuszynski said.

Trump has been criticized for making racist statements about Mexican immigrants and other minority groups. He also picked up support from Andrew Anglin, editor of The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website. Former Ku Klux Klan Wizard David Duke expressed support for Trump’s presidential candidacy.

A relative of Tuszynski, who asked not to be named, said he was glad he was not “out on the streets making bad choices” and hoped he took this time to “get [his] head clear.”

“I’m really hoping [he’s] taking this time to become rehabilitated and getting [his] mind clear,” he said.

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