Suburban Obama delegate quits over 'divisive' remark
CARPENTERSVILLE | Says when she called black kids 'monkeys,' she was asking them to get out of tree
BY ABDON M. PALLASCH Political Reporter/[email protected]
Moving to nip in the bud some potential bad press, White House hopeful Barack Obama's campaign persuaded a delegate to step down after she was ticketed for calling her neighbor's African-American children "monkeys."
Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski, a Carpentersville village trustee, was elected as an Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention. She sports an Obama sign in her front yard.
Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski admitted she used the word "monkeys," but said she did not intend racism. Barack Obama's campaign has persuaded the delegate to step down.
On Saturday, two neighbor children were playing in the tree next-door to her house.
Ramirez-Sliwinski "came outside and told the children to quit playing in the tree like monkeys. The tree was not on Ramirez-Sliwinski's property," Carpentersville Police Commander Michael Kilbourne said.
Ramirez-Sliwinski admitted she used the word "monkeys," but said she did not intend racism. She said she was only trying to protect them from falling out of the tree.
"Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski said she saw the kids playing in the tree and didn't want them falling out of the tree and getting hurt. She said she calls her own grandchildren 'monkeys,' " Kilbourne said. The mother of one of the children did not see it that way, noting she and Ramirez-Sliwinski have clashed before.
"She felt it was racist because of the fact the children were African-American," Kilbourne said.
Told of the incident Monday by the Sun-Times, Obama's campaign called Ramirez-Sliwinski and persuaded her to step aside as a delegate because the campaign felt her remarks were "divisive and unacceptable."
"Given the incident, she is stepping down as a delegate and will be replaced," said campaign spokesman Ben Labolt.
Ramirez-Sliwinski did not return messages seeking comment Monday. She told the Daily Herald she meant no racism with her comment but that "after this incident, I will not run again" for trustee.
The only Hispanic on the board, Ramirez-Sliwinski has been a strong voice for Carpentersville's 40 percent Hispanic population. She and Village President Bill Sarto opposed an English-only proposition and an ordinance to crack down on illegal immigrants.
Opposition leader Judy Sigwalt said, "We are elected officials. We are in a position where people look to us for leadership and professionalism. We have to be diplomatic at all times."
"Frankly, I don't see a law that was broken here," Sarto said. "I think this entire thing has been blown out of proportion. She's a good neighor. She went over to caution the children to be careful not to fall out of a tree.
She has never indicated to me any prejudice whatsoever. We have a trustee who has been convicted on four counts of domestic battery and refuses to resign from the board. He beat his wife with a baseball bat. This seems far less egregious to me."
Ramirez-Sliwinski's $75 ticket was for "disorderly conduct," which Kilbourne defined as, "when a person does something that alarms or disturbs another."
SOURCE: Chicago Sun-Times