Official’s social media posts spark accusations of racism in SW suburb

PALOS TOWNSHIP, Ill. -- Emotions ran high as a politician in the southwest suburbs was accused of racism and faced calls to resign over now-deleted social media posts at a Monday night board meeting.

It started online. Board Trustee Sharon Brannigan, a Republican who ran against Democratic congressman Dan Lipinski in 2014, once posted this on Facebook: “Why are all our schools filling with Middle East students without proper documentation? What is Dan Lipinski doing about it?”

Members of the area’s Arab-American community say the messages make them feel as if they’re being singled-out by one of their elected officials.

Brannigan has since taken down her Facebook page. But she has not apologized for what she posted there, citing her First Amendment right to free speech, and said she will not resign.

The Township Board prepared for some fireworks in Monday's meeting, setting up an overflow room, and even loudspeakers for a crowd that spilled into the parking lot. When she showed up, Brannigan appeared almost oblivious to the controversy that’s been swirling around her for months. She left the meeting quickly and without commenting to the media.

 

Despite calls for Brannigan to be removed, Palos Township Supervisor Colleen Schumann said they cannot.

"We have no legal authority to remove an elected official from office," Schumann said.