Pericles “Perry” Abbasi, an attorney who filed petition challenges and election paperwork for several police district council candidates on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police and who is himself a candidate in the 25th District, has a history of social media posts and messages with racist and misogynist content.
In tweets and group chat messages obtained by the Reader, Abbasi variously shared a racist trope, asked whether it’s misogynist to “absolutely despise the idea of women in groups and wickedness that comes from them talking to each other,” and wrote that a bar owner he’d helped with liquor licensing had provided him with “Polish girls” who may have been “trafficked.” In an interview with the Reader, Abbasi admitted he wrote them but said they were humorous trolling.
On May 25, 2022, Abbasi tweeted a photo of himself juxtaposed with one of George Floyd, who former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdered in 2020, with the caption “Rest in Peace, George Floyd.” He described the tweet as, “Making fun of white liberals virtue-signaling” in the wake of Floyd’s murder.
In another message apparently written by him, someone who identified himself as Abbasi wrote, “I’ve said in spaces that the horrible black american diet is the reason for 13/50!”
The reference to “13/50” is a racist myth that incorrectly claims Black people, who make up 12.6 percent of the U.S. population, account for 50 percent of arrests. That claim is false. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting statistics, about 29 percent of people arrested for violent crimes, property crimes, or drug-related crimes are Black.
Abbasi told the Reader that he did not remember writing the “13/50” group chat, adding, “I can’t remember what I tweeted two days ago,” but admitted that he could not rule it out. He confirmed that he wrote all of the others.
On January 6, Abbasi retweeted a photoshopped picture another user posted of him wearing Ku Klux Klan regalia and sitting next to Kanye West. He said he retweets “every photoshop people make of me” and that doing so is “an exercise in absurdity.”
In another group chat message, Abbasi wrote, “Now that I’m in a relationship with a 36-year-old woman it gives me leeway to say that child porn sentences are way too long, like anything more than a year for downloading anything is evil.” He told the Reader the message was meant as a joke poking fun at Libertarians.
He reiterated several times during the interview that the message about a client who “took care of” him with “Polish girls” who may have been “trafficked” was entirely fictional and meant as a joke.
“I’ll get an idea that sounds funny, and I’ll post it,” Abbasi said. He said that in the group chats he “liked to play the villain, and make up insane things to stir shit up.” He compared himself to Nick Adams, a conservative commentator who served as a surrogate for Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign and has repeated the false claim that the 2020 election was “stolen.” Abbasi added that he thinks Trump is “the funniest man alive.”
Asked about his politics, he said he was anti-war and believes everyone deserves health care. He said that police district councils have to determine “how we’re going to ameliorate the rise in crime, but it has to be done constitutionally and equitably.”
He said he had “no idea who 99 percent” of his 24,000 Twitter followers are and that he believes they have a range of political views. The engagements he gets on social media fill a desire for celebrity that has helped him successfully lose weight, he added. His current “bit” on Twitter is posing as an “Alpha male” who is also a “closeted homosexual.”
Abbasi’s Twitter profile links to his legal practice, in which he files election paperwork and ballot petition challenges for political candidates. He said he will work for just about anyone, but that in police district council races he exclusively worked for the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). Earlier this week, WBEZ reported that the FOP paid Abbasi $10,000.
In December 2022, Abbasi filed petition challenges against progressive candidates who were running together as slates for police district councils. On January 13, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners ruled in favor of the progressives and kept them on the ballot.
Abbasi said that the FOP “needed an election attorney. We came to an agreement.” He added that he has worked for Democrats and Republicans in the past, and “the focus is doing the job for the client.” He doesn’t care about his clients’ political ideology. “It’s not necessarily ideal, [but] for a lot of candidates I’m not even sure of their platform.”
A candidate for police district council in the 25th District, Abbasi said he was considering running, and that the FOP gave him a “green light” because they were not running any other candidates in that district. Had the FOP not consented to him running, he said he may not have.
Abbasi also put his own contact information on election filings he submitted for six other candidates. He told the Reader the FOP referred them to him. Those candidates are:
- Maggie Finucane, Ninth District
- John Marcatante, 16th District
- Nick Carusi, 17th District
- Mitchell Rose, 25th District
- Shlomo S. Adelman (removed from ballot)
- James V. Murphy III (removed from ballot)
Abbasi also defended “Proco” Joe Moreno, a former alderperson who is running for City Council in the First Ward, against a petition challenge by two residents, and was the attorney for a petition challenge against one of Moreno’s opponents, Sam Royko. The CEBC ultimately kept both candidates on the ballot.
Update January 23, 2023: In a statement to the Reader, Moreno said, “I had no knowledge of this behavior. I do not condone this behavior and I do not stand behind any racist/ misogynistic comments of any sort. As a proud Latino, this is something that is quite upsetting and I will no longer be utilizing his services.”
Until this week, Abbasi was listed as the treasurer for mayoral candidate Kam Buckner’s campaign committee. He is still listed as treasurer for eight other campaign committees. On January 15, Buckner disavowed Abbasi in a tweet, saying that he had a “purely administrative title,” that Buckner was “incredibly disturbed” by Abbasi’s racist and misogynist posts, and that Abbasi was “never part of our regular working team and hasn’t spent time in our campaign office.”
In a statement to the Reader, Buckner’s campaign reiterated the disavowal. “He was the campaign’s election lawyer during the petition process. He was never on the finance committee. As the campaign’s lawyer, he was registered as campaign treasurer on the Illinois Board of Elections.”
Abbasi also said he hadn’t worked directly for Buckner’s campaign and that he forgot he was listed as its treasurer.
In a statement to the Reader, Saul Arellano, a candidate for police district council in the 25th District, said, “Homophobia, transphobia, racism, and misogyny are no laughing matter. The 25th Police District is one of the most diverse districts in Chicago, with Black, white, Latino, and immigrant residents from across the globe. . . . This isn’t any laughing matter. We need to unify and protect our communities from this denigrating and destructive commentary. Inclusivity is at the forefront of our movement.”
Asked about the potential impact his tweets might have on his campaign, Abbasi seemed ambivalent. “Some people might find it distasteful,” he said. “If someone doesn’t want to vote for me because I’m a Twitter troll, that’s their right.”
Update March 13, 2023: Mr. Abbasi finished fifth out of five candidates for the 25th Police District Council with 8.6 percent of the vote.
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