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Police investigating video of apparent racial attack at River Forest Jewel

Alleged attacker is prominent local developer, according to multiple sources

June 3rd, 2020 5:45 PM

Updated: Jun. 3rd, 2020 7:39 PM

Multiple sources have identified the man who can be seen apparently attacking a woman of color in a viral video as Rob Palley, a prominent River Forest developer and head of Granite Realty. | Provided

By Maria Maxham

Staff Reporter

UPDATED June 3 at 7:30 p.m.

An update on the Village of River Forest website late in the day on June 3 stated that the alleged offender is now in police custody.

"Investigators and prosecutors are reviewing videos posted to social media, cell phone videos, store videos, and street camera videos, as well as interviewing all witnesses, including the victim. As part of this process, all police interview, incident, and evidence reports will be thoroughly reviewed by the Assistant State's Attorney assigned to the case," says the update.

"We have no tolerance for hate in River Forest," states the website. "We commend the witnesses that came forward to assist the victim and who provided vital information for this investigation."

The village said that an update will be provided after the Cook County State's Attorney's Office completes its review and recommends appropriate charges.

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A video posted Wednesday on Twitter appears to show a white man attacking a black woman, who was filming him as he walked to his car outside Jewel, 7525 W. Lake St. in River Forest.

River Forest police are investigating the incident along with the Cook County State's Attorney. Police Chief James O'Shea said the alleged victim had left the Jewel parking lot before police arrived, but that later in the afternoon she was at the police station providing a statement.

O'Shea said police were talking to multiple witnesses and reviewing video.

In the video, posted at 10:49 a.m. on June 3, the woman follows a man wearing a white "Aruba" T-shirt and blue mask. She says, "I'm in Starbucks getting my coffee and this man calls me a black bitch and tells me this is why everyone's dying."

The man doesn't immediately respond.

"Do you have anything to say for yourself now?" she asks. She repeats the question. Then asks it a third time.

At this point he stops and turns to face the camera, hand on hip. He stares for a few moments, then suddenly seems to grab or swipe at her phone.

"You touch me, I'm going to beat your ass," says the woman. There are struggling noises, but the camera doesn't capture what's going on, though it appears there is a physical altercation occurring.

"Don't f-----g touch me," yells the woman. Then, "Don't f-----g put your hands on me!"

The phone seems to have fallen to the ground, capturing two people who appear to be grappling.

There are more sounds of struggling, then the woman screams loudly and someone in the background says, "Oh!" as though commenting on something that just happened.

A man is heard in the background saying, "Hey, hey, hey," in what might be the sounds of bystanders breaking up the apparent altercation. You can see the video here

Multiple sources shown the video by Wednesday Journal have identified the man as Rob Palley, a prominent River Forest developer and head of Granite Realty. As of 5:39 p.m. on Wednesday, the company's website had been taken down. The site was functional as recently as Wednesday afternoon.

The Journal left a voice mail for Palley this afternoon. He has not responded at this hour. A text message was sent to the woman who took the video. She has also not responded at this hour.

On Twitter, the video was posted with the following description: "I was attacked at Jewel Osco in Oak Park, IL [in a response the poster said it was actually the River Forest Jewel] while I was trying to purchase Starbucks. This man called me a black bitch and said I couldn't speak English. Then he proceeds to say this is why black people are dying."

This is a developing story. Watch for updates.

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