Advertisement

Retired judge throws punch at Black Lives Matter activist near defaced Columbus statue

Click to play video 'Former judge throws a punch at anti-racism protester in Chicago' Former judge throws a punch at anti-racism protester in Chicago
WATCH: Former judge Robert Bertucci punched protester Tooka Zokaie near a Christopher Columbus statue in Chicago on June 13.

A former judge threw a punch at an anti-racism protester as they stood next to a defaced Christopher Columbus statue in Chicago last week.

The nine-foot-tall bronze figure in Arrigo Park had the word “Killer” spray-painted along its side, per WWTW-TV.

In the video, originally posted to Twitter by Tooka Zokaie and verified by Storyful, the anonymous demonstrator and retired judge Robert Bertucci engage in a heated debate at Arrigo Park.

“Listen to me. When I was in seventh grade, I was getting hate notes,” the protester, holding a “Black Lives Matter” sign, can be heard saying. “Every day, for two weeks.”

READ MORE: Heartbreaking video shows Black child, 10, hiding from police car while in his own yard

Story continues below advertisement

“Yeah, and that’s horrible,” Bertucci chimes in, to which the protester responds: “No, no. I grew up in Mount Prospect. Fully white community. I was getting hate notes every day for two weeks. I didn’t tell anyone because all my friends were white.”

Two weeks after that, he says, the N-word was written on his locker.

“I had to go to the principal, who’s white. Doesn’t do anything about it,” he continues. “Did anything like that happen to you? … All you are is bothered by hypocrisy.”

“Don’t spit on me,” Bertucci says, then approaches the protester and swings his arm, just missing contact slightly off-screen.

Click to play video 'Boy hides from police while playing basketball' Boy hides from police while playing basketball
Boy hides from police while playing basketball

Chicago police officers witnessed what happened and restrained Bertucci, leading him away from the area. Ultimately, he was let go, per the video.

Story continues below advertisement

The police department refused to comment when asked by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Zokaie, a 26-year-old activist who filmed the encounter, said the young man raised his voice but did not spit on Bertucci.

The Black Lives Matter activist, asking to remain anonymous, told the local publication that he’s unsure about pressing charges.

READ MORE: What does ‘defund the police’ really mean? Experts say confusion harming progress

“Going forward, I definitely feel like this is going to be something that is going to push me to feel more … ready to fight this battle,” he said. “Sometimes it does feel hopeless but there’s been a lot of support that I’ve gotten, more than hate, and it’s clear to me [that] the people who got my back understand me.”

According to the Sun-Times, Bertucci is still a practising attorney. He was a Cook County judge for 24 years before retiring in 2008, according to a now-defunct page on DiPiero & O’Shea law firm’s website.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

Advertisement