DARIEN, IL — Darien City Council candidate John Laratta has made a big issue of civil rights and the Darien Police Department in his campaign.

But the 76-year-old Vietnam veteran is focused on how he believes the department infringed his rights in a December 2019 encounter. Asked about the rights of others, Laratta goes silent.

It’s not that he is publicity shy. In the last few weeks, he has commented on his situation with the Darien police more than 200 times on Patch, through which he brought the encounter to the public’s attention. He contends he was the victim of police brutality and that officers ignored his requests for a lawyer — issues that involve civil rights.

But in a Patch questionnaire for candidates, Laratta did not answer the question about a civil rights movement that has much to say about the police: “Do you support Black Lives Matter and what are your thoughts on the demonstrations held since the death of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake?”

Laratta, who is white, also did not respond to Patch’s queries about racial equality and the government’s handling of the pandemic.

In an email Thursday, Patch asked Laratta about his views on Black Lives Matter and Floyd, who died in the custody of Minneapolis police officers. Laratta acknowledged the email, but did not answer the question.

Pamela Taylor and Norbert Tamos, who are candidates in other Darien City Council races, also did not respond to the Black Lives Matter question. But neither of them is publicly saying that police have violated their civil rights. Taylor is African American, while Tamos is white.

One Darien official who minced few words about the issue was Darien Police Chief Greg Thomas, who issued a statement eight days after Floyd’s death. Thomas said he was “angered and saddened.”

He said the police would stand with “principled” protests like those in response to police brutality and the death of Floyd.

“The anger most are feeling is a justified emotion. The black community is angered, those who support the black community are angered, the police are angered,” the chief said. “Though anger is a justified emotion and protests are a righteous response, riots are not. Two wrongs do not make a right. Having a justified feeling of anger does not mean we respond in an unlawful manner.”

Thomas said rioters unfortunately wanted to cause harm.

“They may or may not care about the elimination of police brutality or about the death of George Floyd,” Thomas said. “They want to create chaos for a number of reasons. We should never lump rioters in with protesters. Protesters did not loot stores, burn businesses, injure officers or hurt bystanders — rioters did that!”

In a post on Patch last week, Laratta contended the government, including the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office, has ignored “the horrific crimes against me by these vicious thugs in blue Darien uniforms. Where is my justice?”

Laratta is running against Ward 5 Alderwoman Mary Sullivan in the April 6 election.

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