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Alderman calls ‘random’ attack by two men a case of mistaken identity

Ald. Brendan Reilly says he was standing outside Boss Bar, 420 N. Clark St., Thursday night when a man yelled at him from the street. The next thing the alderman knew, the man was trying to punch him in the head.

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board in 2017.
Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) said he was attacked last week.
Rich Hein/Sun-Times file

Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) says he has learned the hard way never to stand alone outside a River North bar after a night of drinking.

His mistake allowed two men he said he didn’t know to pummel him in what the alderman believes was a case of mistaken identity.

It happened shortly after 10:30 p.m. Thursday after Reilly emerged from Boss Bar, 420 N. Clark St.

Reilly said he had settled his tab and was waiting alone on the sidewalk for friends inside to do the same and give him a ride home when a man he didn’t know started yelling at him from the street.

“I can’t for the life of me understand what he’s saying. He looked absolutely furious. Enraged. The next thing I know, the guy’s on top of me. I’m on the ground. He’s trying to punch me in my head,” Reilly said.

“In the meantime, some other guy comes around and starts kicking me. Within seconds, a security guard from the bar saw this happening through the window and ran out, pulled these guys off of me and they ran away, jumped into a car and sped off.”

The attack was over in “a matter of 25 seconds,” the alderman said. Reilly didn’t call 911 or file a police report — not to avoid publicity, he said, but because he didn’t require medical attention.

“I just wanted to go home. … I just didn’t think that warranted police attention on what is typically a busy night in downtown Chicago,” he said.

The alderman was asked if his attackers said anything indicating they knew he was an alderman or were unhappy with proposals or statements he’s made.

“I didn’t get that impression at all. It felt to me completely and totally random. … In fact, if I had to guess, I think they might have thought I was somebody else,” Reilly said.

“I couldn’t even understand what the guy was saying. He had a very heavy accent. His pupils were dilated. He was enraged. It was nuts. … This is all so bizarre to me. Which is why I’m thinking maybe this was a mistaken identify kind of thing.”

A spokesperson from Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said Monday night said via email, “After just hearing about the attack against Alderman Reilly which took place on Thursday night, Mayor Lightfoot is deeply concerned and has directed the Chicago Police Department and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection to conduct a full investigation of this incident, including the delay in reporting.”

Reilly was asked what he learned from the near-miss.

“It’s pretty obvious that this was an opportunistic crime. I was standing alone by myself on the sidewalk. That makes anyone a somewhat vulnerable target. That was probably a mistake,” Reilly said.

“Next time, I’ll wait to exit the establishment with my friends. It’s really sad that you have to worry about this kind of thing anywhere in Chicago. You’ve just got to be vigilant. And I guess there’s safety in numbers.”