Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica (R-16th) charged Sunday that he was arrested in McCook on charges concocted for political retribution, according to the Sun-Times.
He said he was charged with damage to property after police said he was tearing down campaign signs for his opponent, Jeffrey Tobolski, the mayor of McCook. Peraica said he and a campaign volunteer were posting their own signs and never touched those of Tobolski.
Peraica said he was arrested about 11 p.m. Saturday and held by McCook police until about 3 a.m. Sunday, when they freed him on a non-cash bond for the misdemeanor charge. “It was as clear an abuse of police powers as I have ever seen,” Peraica said.
McCook police did not immediately return a phone call.
Peraica said the episode was directed by Tobolski and that the mayor made calls to the police station while Peraica was being held. Peraica said some officers were apologetic about the arrest.
“They were incredulous that they were being told what to do. Clearly the mayor was directing the whole show,” he said.
Peraica said he was riding in a volunteer’s van and that a McCook squad car began following it almost as soon as it entered the town. He said the volunteer posted some signs on public property but that police pulled over the van after a few minutes.
The police said they had a witness attesting that he was tearing down Tobolski signs. “They drummed up some guy who was inebriated. He had no shoes on and no shirt,” Peraica said.
Peraica said McCook has an ordinance banning political signs on the public way but that it is widely flouted. Police, he said, don’t enforce it against Tobolski.