Oak Park trustee receives email threats at home and work

After recently telling fellow trustees to 'shut up,' Trustee Susan Buchanan's comments spread on social media

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By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

Susan Buchanan, an Oak Park village trustee, says she has received threats to her and her family's safety following comments she made at an Oct. 7 board meeting attempting to silence white male trustees during a discussion regarding updates to the village's diversity statement.

Buchanan, in a statement to Wednesday Journal Friday, said, "Both me and my family have received threats on both my village and work accounts. The police departments at my work and in the village are involved."

She said she and her family would not be staying in their home tonight.

Buchanan lit into Trustees Deno Andrews and Dan Moroney, both white males, telling them to "shut up" after they expressed a desire to clarify a term – "systems of oppression" – used in the long delayed diversity statement revision.

"Why are you arguing what is a system of oppression?" Buchanan asked. "You've never experienced one, so shut up!""

She also told Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb, a native of Palestine, that his "skin was white enough," when he tried to intervene.

While many audience members applauded Buchanan for the comments, she has since received vitriolic emails and severe criticism following her comments. Some have even called for Buchanan's resignation.

Video footage of the meeting has made its way across the internet, even being posted on Infowars, a fringe conspiracy website, whose presence has been banned from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

In a written statement to the Journal Friday, Buchanan said she "lost her temper at Monday's board meeting" and "immediately apologized afterwards" to her fellow board members, the village clerk and the village manager. 

"I will do better going forward," the statement read. "The diversity statement agenda item was the culmination of months of discussion about the wording of the statement, and my frustration grew out of that."

Buchanan's statement ended with her affirming her affection for Oak Park: "I love Oak Park and look forward to continuing to work on behalf of the people of this wonderful community."



Reader Comments

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Drew Rein  

Posted: October 14th, 2019 10:16 AM

I just need to stop and process the idea that this woman appointed herself the pigmentation police. It is incredible and definitely an Oak Park thing.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: October 14th, 2019 8:10 AM

Looking forward to placing a formal complaint with any governing board which controls her doctorship to ascertain the fitness of the person to perform their duties.

Bryan Rekarson from Op  

Posted: October 13th, 2019 10:36 PM

Any deviation in the comments section is a distraction to the subject at hand if it is not directed at the resignation of this woman based on her reprehensible behavior and disgusting comments. Spoke to some friends this weekend who voted for her and are extremely unhappy right now. This is not was they voted for. They feel hoodwinked and are concerned about her mental capacities.

Kevin Peppard from Oak Park  

Posted: October 13th, 2019 12:17 PM

Fine-wording of the Diversity Statement would normally be a tempest in a teapot. It's more about Trustees feeling good about themselves than any call to action. Most of the work of the Board is mundane, concerning sewers and streets, water and garbage, and police and firefighters/paramedics. The only possibility for racially unequal treatment lies with the police, and until recently, we had a Black Police Chief for long years. Most police work is also mundane, even though it can still be dangerous: Domestic battery (often involving alcohol and weapons), drunk driving, stalking/harassing, vandalism, garage burglaries, and the like. Since the Diversity Statement is largely about our own self-promotion as a Village consisting of Social Justice Warriors, it doesn't have much to do with actual Village governance. That is why my friend the late Bernie Abraham.( one of the original seed-capital funders of this newspaper, and later a columnist) was the first and only Trustee to vote "NO" on its re-approval in the late ''90s. He thought it was style without substance., and words about words. As a scientist at Argonne, he was interested in operational statements: Tangible, un-abstract things that could be done now. Somehow, the Village survived his declining to sign the resolution.

Martin Bickle  

Posted: October 13th, 2019 11:32 AM

Unhinged feminists should be pitied, not threatened.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: October 13th, 2019 10:11 AM

The core issue here is Buchanan's lack of judgement. This is a person who will be deciding about government spending that raises your property taxes and rents. She can't even control her emotions. When discussing issues, she does not want to discuss or listen to anyone else. She has her beliefs and that is that. If you support her, her job is to get others to support ideas you like - but her strategy to do that is to insult people, which is not going to work to persuade anyone. So she is a major fail as a politician whether you like her or not. We are stuck with her, but we all need to support the Trustees who do have common sense and we all have to get out the vote so this never happens again.

Lofi Fisher  

Posted: October 13th, 2019 12:57 AM

@LynetteHish She should be sacked for what was an intimidating borderline abusive racist and unprofessional tirade. She is the manifestation of the oppression she thinks she is fighting against. Equality for all means equality for all. The sad thing is that I suspect everyone commenting is looking for this outcome, but this divisive hate speech from a supposed community leader has brought out ugly prejudices. (For example, you questioning others posters ethnicity and gender)

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 11:44 PM

This is all the fault of the white racist white man Roman Catholic Priest Father Michael Pflagher. He must be stopped and silenced.

Teddy Sallad  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 10:00 PM

Lynette- How do YOU know the SKIN COLOR of the PEOPLE posting in this chain? I don't see a single photo of one PERSON in this thread. I see right through the tactic- when truth and logic fail, quote Dr. King to add substance to your banal accusations.

Lynette Hish  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 9:07 PM

Look at all the white people saying we are doing well with equity despite a large number of POC saying the opposite. And look at all the outraged white men who silence woman and POC at those meetings without hesitation. Has anyone demanded an apology from you or posted edited video of you that ended up on info wars? She was angry bc she is enraged like so so many of us watching those meetings - the way the trustees have derailed and obfuscated and thought themselves experts on language describing racism and oppression despite BEING WHITE MEN who have NEVER experienced those things. This is how bias and white supremacy continue. You are playing it out like it has been played out in over and over and over again. Just as Martin Luther King said over and over. I know you post MLK admiration in January...perhaps this is a fitting reminder to you...getting white men to share power and stop oppressive systems does not happen in pearls over tea. It's a fight. "I MUST make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time; and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more

Carl E Burkeen  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 4:54 PM

I grew up in o.p.,this irrational so called dr was wrong and now shes playing the victim? How about giving a apology to the people who you abused (verbally and mentally)? Zero tolerance for any other views. It makes me wonder what her bedside manner is. I can only imagine if the 2 "white men" had been this way to her. They'd be out of a job. Sad day and age.

Corey Gimbel  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 1:42 PM

I believe that the uproar over Dr./Trustee Buchanan's tantrum/emotional outburst/bad moment has portrayed the people of the Village of Oak Park (HER CONSTITUENTS!!!!) in a way that is the opposite of the way many of us feel. My opinion, of course, but reflected to me by a number of chats with friends and neighbors over the past couple of days. I think she owes an immediate, heartfelt apology to her colleagues, to every white male who observed her outburst and to every person who lives or works in Oak Park. Saying that "Your skin is white enough!" to the Mayor who may have PERSONALLY experienced real oppression was unforgivably ignorant. Telling CBS: "I probably showed more emotion than I should have," is not an apology. It's, at best, obfuscation and at worst, self delusion. I believe that her words under-gird a passionate belief. Unfortunately that belief reveals a deeply held prejudice that is antithetical to her careers and in direct opposition to how our community sees itself. Dr. Buchanan is entitled to her feelings, beliefs and observations. But as a person of privilege; a white woman of some means, a homeowner and parent, a medical professional, a professor, and an elected official the people of Oak Park have a right to expect much more from her. As I stated in a previous comment:"from the perspective of a white guy who is overweight, over-educated, aging, a member of a religious minority, and a person who is OBVIOUSLY excessively privileged (funny I never had that reality driven home to me so vigorously before), I'm insulted." and under-represented by Trustee Buchanan.

Marc Martinez from Oak Park  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 1:20 PM

I am also confused by Mayor Taleb's statement. Is Oak Park a bastion of racism and hate which must be urgently addressed or is it 'welcoming, loving, and inclusive'? And when the board unanimously passes a statement that says "we work to break down systems of oppression, including racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and other forms of bias and hate", then why would he be surprised that people would believe that Oak Park is a divided and intolerant community? The diversity statement seems intended to communicate a striving for a higher plane, while much of the discussion implies we are starting from the depths. I have found Oak Park to be a pretty great place. In 27 years of living here, I have not met a racist hater that was trying to perpetuate a system of oppression. Seeking improvement and disagreeing on priorities and methods is possible among people that are all starting from a good place.

Jenna Brown Russell  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 1:18 PM

Thank you Mayor Abu-Taleb for your inspiring comments. We must be united in a common pursuit -a climate of opportunity, excellence, and value for every member of our community. It can not be transferred from one to another, but must be supported for each of us equally. Division will never achieve that important goal.

Owen Oxley  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 12:39 PM

This is the trademark of every coward who wants to deflect form their own behavior. Oh, I'm getting harassed or death threats online, I'm the victim. Ignore my abusive behavior and comments.

Marc Martinez from Oak Park  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 12:16 PM

The article says that Dr. Buchanan gave a written statement to the paper. Where is it? They printed the statement from Mayor Abu-Taleb. I would like to see what she had to say. From the selected quotes she seems to be apologizing for losing her temper, but not for her comments. And did she apologize to her colleagues for being rude or for saying they had no right to an opinion? I would like a better idea of what 'do better going forward' means. It may mean polite disdain and condescension for the inferior beings on the board rather than more angry rudeness.

Lofi Fisher  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 11:11 AM

If Anan Abu-Taleb had made the same comments to her and that she shouldn't be listened to because of her ethnicity and gender, he would no longer be in office. If Oak Park truly care about Equity the she would have lost her job too. When will people wake up to this growing racism in society?

Eric Molas  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 10:32 AM

I understand experiencing oppression directly carries a gravity that intellectually considering it does not. However, if we took Ms. Buchanan's view, then a person not be able to voice an opinion on anything in which they do not have personal experience, which would severely limit expression. My father directly experienced systems of oppression , genocide to his family, and racism in both Europe and the US. He was called a "DP", a displaced person here in the USA. He related all of these details and many, many more to me, who has not directly experienced any oppression in my lifetime. However, i learned from him, and think i can offer an opinion on the subject of systems of oppression. That being said, i'm aware that the context of this discussion is our diversity statement, specifically the rights our minorities in our community. I just believe that everyone's input on a subject should be valued, whether or not they have direct experience, as long as are trying to understand and give weight to those that have experienced something directly.

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 10:24 AM

There are many decisions that our Village has to make that involve spending, taxes, staff salaries, grants to non-profit organizations, etc. These issues require cool and calm consideration of what is best for our community. When raw emotions and political agendas get injected into these deliberations it could lead to hasty and rash decisions that are regretted later. Our Village Board members need to act like mature adults and do what is best for this community, including its citizens and stakeholders for the long run, with consideration of equity issues and also with an understanding that we already pay some of the highest property taxes in the country. (Notice that I didn't use "but").

Teddy Sallad  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 9:48 AM

Buchanan is quite the card player- race card, sex card, and now the victim card.

Christopher Bell  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 9:31 AM

@ Christine - great point and I assume there is serious contrition and heart felt apology is on the way. Almost all of us on this thread have interest or care ...(otherwise would never engage). Towns go thru peaks and valleys on many levels - OP is no different. Everyone is trying to solve for equation that perhaps is not solvable given current tools/strategies. America to me successful brought all of the ugly elements to table with zero solutions or recongintion for blacks who are doing well. I get it, every good drama needs a villain - but not sure we are addressing the right one..

Christine Vernon  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 9:17 AM

We can always count on Tom McMillan for a good comment. Christopher Bell, your point of view is good, too. But there would need to be a heartfelt apology to ALL before Buchanan had any chance of regaining the respect and confidence that put her her into office. By the way, she is not the only one in this thread with a mixed race family. That is no excuse.

Frank Murphy  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 8:00 AM

This is just another example of the widespread and open hostility towards white people and white men in particular.

Christopher Bell  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 7:17 AM

The interesting and meaningful questions are the "why" not the "what". What - she was unprofessional and disrespectful and rude etc. but why did she say that and what is the real meaning. Here is my humble option ....mr James America to me exposed or created / opened some deep wounds ....Oprf and oak park are trying to deal with it ..... guilt anger resentment are all easy but unproductive .... we need to really engage around these tough conversations (I know what she did was not helpful) but perhaps in her own mind she was pushing things forward. Again - not saying the way she did was right or correct given her role. However, she did sign up to help (again could never pay me enough to deal with this crap) but she is trying to make a difference

Christopher Bell  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 7:08 AM

@ Tom great point. I am only encouraging deeper thought into root cause and underlying issues over equity (perceived or real. ) .... bad behavior for sure ... completely out of left field given current culture - no.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 7:02 AM

A small cadre attending the meeting to clap at bad behavior is not to be confused with support by the overall town. Hard working tax payers are too tired to attend these meetings and made the mistake of not voting last election, allowing fringe candidates to get in. The Trustee's racist crazy actions caught on video should get more people in town to vote next time, so we do not have Trustees with puny vote totals in the future doing things we find unacceptable. The apology was not an apology, it was a weak excuse for bad behavior.

Christopher Bell  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 6:14 AM

Has anyone stopped to think that the reason she was acting Bat Sh-t crazy is because she has been drinking the Oak Park Kool aid some of the very people on this site have enabled? Again, I am shocked that people are shocked .... you heard all the applause from the crowd...

Marcos Mackie from London  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 5:15 AM

If Oak Park aspires to be tolerant and inclusive, then after making flagrant racist and sexist comments at a trustee meeting surely Susan has to be fired immediately. What kind of institution turns a blind eye to flagrant racism like this??

Christopher Bell  

Posted: October 12th, 2019 3:38 AM

Up early to get to work ... clearly the women is NOT racist. She is married to African American and has a black child. By no means excusing the crazy but perhaps she was coming from a place as a parent of child - and has seen the pain/issues that are unique to our (black kids). Again, not justifying - but in some way she might have felt so passionately because she feels others don't get it. Not playing victim - just providing possible context ..

Darrell Thompson  

Posted: October 11th, 2019 10:37 PM


Darrell Thompson  

Posted: October 11th, 2019 10:34 PM

she obviously a racist but should be threatened. ppl with this type of no self control should not be in any position of power. oak park should vote her out. Next time her anger might get violent.

Kisha Elle Williamson from Oak Park  

Posted: October 11th, 2019 10:31 PM

I stand with you Dr. Buchanan!

Christine Vernon  

Posted: October 11th, 2019 8:53 PM

Connie, talk about "self-righteous talk", you apparently have all the answers, so everyone else should refrain from freedom of expression as you suggest. You say, "People want equity. Not decorum." Did it ever occur to you that people want both. This discussion has been primarily about the conduct of an elected official on a governmental body. Unless it is part of her political strategy to be "a disrupter", of a meeting, it would behoove Dr. Buchanan to conduct herself with dignity and respect for her colleagues and the public who do follow these meetings. Great loyalty on your part to stand with Dr. Buchanan but then, right now, you both stand on shakey ground. She verbally expressed racism to her colleagues and hostility to all white men which met with applause in the Council Chambers. You think this is good government? You think a person who behaves like that in an official capacity should be given a pass so quickly and easily? In the Woman's March in Chicago, there was a sign, a great reminder of the audience of all things done publicly ~ "The Children Are Watching" ~ You bet. You state it like this, "We are all paying very close attention." like you are the dreaded "Big Brother" of the totalitarian state in the novel Nineteen Eighty-four. We are watching this, too, and young people are watching it, too. This derailment is a major setback for all the people who have devoted their time to working out an official statement. Susan Buchanan said, ""This mayor and this board are obviously not willing to face history. It is time for this community to face equity." How wrong she is! When the discussion goes off the rails to a verbal racist tongue lashing of a particular demographic like Dr. Buchanan did this week and there is applause, the people and the whole process lose credibility and what progress they have made, completely. That is in no one's best interest.

Tom Davis from San Diego  

Posted: October 11th, 2019 8:37 PM

How can somebody make so many outrageous statements and judgments based on skin color and not be called a racist?

Connie Moreland from Oak Park  

Posted: October 11th, 2019 7:47 PM

Please get back to work. Enough with the distraction and self righteous talk. I personally do not believe that any of the board members are above reproach. People want equity. Not decorum. The lack of passion for this is issue is likely because the cool calm collected personalities just do not care to move this issue towards a conclusion. Making this a "story" is just another political strategy to deny and to delay. Who has actually been exposed? We are all paying very close attention.

Christopher Bell  

Posted: October 11th, 2019 7:22 PM

The deep irony here is equity is actually one of the things Oak Park does well. It had deep in meaning policy issues - growth of pop due to new development and implications on schools /infrastructure, crowding out caused by tax burden, continued slow decline in quality of schools etc. This is important - yes, having a statement but there are existential questions OP needs to address ASAP.

David Rothstein  

Posted: October 11th, 2019 7:15 PM

Clearly this woman is suffering from some kind of mental illness and should be shown compassion during these difficult times.

Katina Smith  

Posted: October 11th, 2019 6:53 PM

I pray safety for Dr Buchanan and her family no one should ever be threatened for their viewpoint and I stand with Dr Buchanan. She has my support and vote. God bless our village I pray that we as a people of Oak Park can accept her apology about the deliverance of message. We've all had moments where we've had to ask forgiveness and I hope we show her grace in this moment.

Christopher Bell  

Posted: October 11th, 2019 6:48 PM

Leave this woman alone ... yes, she was rude and aggressive in her behavior but who has not been emotional and said or done things we regret. Clearly she is drinking the OP kool aid and cares (god only know why subject yourself to being on the board). Perhaps we practice some of those good ole Christian values we discuss. Like her, I once went on a tirade with a sports program in OP (about lack of diversity on board). They did everything possible to hurt me and my kids .. The cold hard reality is there were elements of truth in what she said. Until you have been spit on, punch, call the N word, had people lock doors when you walk by etc. you will never know what it means to be black. You can empathize certainly but it is not the same... lets move on before she becomes bitter and angry with the very village she is trying to help.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: October 11th, 2019 6:25 PM

Dr. Buchanan, I do not believe anyone in Oak Park, would send you any threat's. It is most likely people who get pleasure out of this sick type of behavior just like hackers who enjoy stirring fear. No comment on Wednesday Journal gave any threat. This is the problem with social media platforms that people can offend other's never saying it face to face. I understand what the Mayor is writing although before sweeping quickly past this, it should be clear how the board should move forward so there are reasonable guidelines to follow. As for Oak Park getting media attention, good or bad, that is the business of media and not all media outlets practice responsible journalism. That is why it is so important when you are in a position of power to take the position responsibly. This is a time for the board to come together and not use social media to communicate with each other. Meet in person as a group and have an open discussion with each other. This is how we use to do it, and it worked

Greg Major  

Posted: October 11th, 2019 6:20 PM

You know what they say about everything after the word "but"

Christine Vernon  

Posted: October 11th, 2019 6:01 PM

Me, too, Kitty. I am very sorry to read that it has all taken this ugly turn. At the same time, being a daughter of a good white father, and citizen, a WWII veteran; wounded and awarded a Purple Heart and other medals; wife of a white man, a Viet Nam Veteran; a sister of six white brothers, mother of two white sons.... I was utterly devastated to read about and, see with my own eyes, and hear with my own ears on tape, Dr. Buchanan's utter disregard of, and prejudice toward, white men. I voted for her with great hopes for her contribution to the Village. We have seen this kind of hatefulness become so prevalent in society in the U.S. with extremists on both sides. I never expected it from someone on the Village Board. I hope Dr. Buchanan be instrumental in repairing the damage of her words spoken. And I hope the people who have threatened her and her family's safety come to understand that they are misguided, that their behavior is as damaging and wrong as anything she said. Hate is supposed to have no home in Oak Park. I see the signs everywhere, now it's time to live it.

Kevin Schultz  

Posted: October 11th, 2019 6:01 PM

No one deserves threats but when you use the language ("shut up!) and attitude ("white enough") of Trump, you invited the Trump-like vitriol and attitude into our discourse. Shame on her. She lost my vote.

Klara Gabor  

Posted: October 11th, 2019 5:43 PM

I certainly wish her no harm or her family but, could this be an attempt at sympathy after her performance? You have to be stupid to send threats. I can believe there are some stupid enough to do it but, it seems a bit dramatic to me.

Kitty Conklin from Oak Park  

Posted: October 11th, 2019 4:49 PM

I am so sorry to read this. I wish complete safety for Dr. Buchanan and her family.

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