In my opinion, the only times that Palos Township Trustee Sharon Brannigan has spoken honestly were the times she posted her numerous Islamophobic and racist Facebook posts prior to this controversy.
True, she has issued four perfunctory apologies, but the words in the apologies are contradicted by her actions, including at the most recent July township meeting.
At that meeting, she issued an apology of sorts but pivoted immediately to characterizing the protests as, in essence, the “attack Brannigan” campaign.
By doing this, she hoped to distract from her own racism and to frame herself as the victim. She has done this for two years now: deflect and deny her obvious intent.
But, informed readers know that the protests did not arise in a vacuum. They were a direct, specific response to Brannigan’s series of racist and Islamophobic posts.
In spite of her four attempts at apologies, I cannot believe her because, as one who has attended the meetings, read her words and heard her speech, I am aware of her many misstatements of fact that were issued both in an attempt to confuse the issue and to paint herself as the victim instead of the aggressor that she is.
In November of 2018, Brannigan’s husband chanted “white supremacy” to a large group of protesters as he exited the meeting with her. He then deliberately walked into the group of protesters, which included me.
The group watched as Brannigan’s husband walked into me, deliberately aiming for me, and he then stumbled back from the impact.
Brannigan immediately went to the local media and claimed that her husband was attacked. Brannigan also denied that her husband chanted “white supremacy,” but this was also witnessed by over 20 people.
Another misstatement came after the December 2018 meeting that was attended by the hate group Act for America. The group came from DuPage County in a chartered bus. After the meeting, Brannigan spoke to local media representatives and said that she had never heard of the group, but she welcomed their support.
In reality, Brannigan had informed the township trustees prior to the December 2018 meeting that she and her husband had gone to the hate group and solicited their support. Why did Brannigan seek the support of a hate group like Act for America? She did it because the group’s racist and Islamophobic rhetoric echoes her own. Birds of a feather tend to flock together.
Most recently, during the public comment section of a meeting, Brannigan’s husband grabbed at me, called me crude names and was ejected from the meeting. This was witnessed by one Brannigan supporter who, ironically, has written about feeling intimidated by the anti-racist protesters. Even though she was seated only three feet away, she perhaps has already forgotten this incident.
Based on these things, I am sorry, but I cannot see Brannigan’s attempts at apologies as anything other than a political act and an attempt to paint herself as the reasonable one in this matter.
Finally, we must remember the political context in which Brannigan made her remarks. We cannot separate her racist and Islamophobic attacks from the larger political atmosphere, where Islamophobic attacks and racist speech have increased tremendously since 2016.
Brannigan is merely one local piece in an increasingly large national mosaic of hate.