An Illinois professor was charged on Sunday, Sept. 19 with aggravated assault and a hate crime after he allegedly hurled racial slurs at at a Black woman and her 7-year-old daughter outside of a Chicago grocery store earlier this month.
Alberto Friedmann, a 53-year-old professor at National University of Health Sciences, confronted the woman and her daughter on Sept. 7, prosecutors with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The woman and her daughter were sitting in their car near the Jewel-Osco grocery store in Oak Park along the traffic lane between the parking aisles while waiting for the woman’s mother to finish shopping.
Friedmann allegedly honked at the vehicle from inside his own car behind them, then got out and approached the woman’s vehicle after she motioned for him to go around.
Prosecutors say Friedmann yelled slurs at the woman and her child as he approached the car. When the woman tried to open the door, Friedmann allegedly shut it then spat in her face and said he didn’t like Black people. The woman’s mother came out of the store and witnessed Friedmann’s use of the slurs.
The woman got out of her car and tried to throw a water bottle at Friedmann’s vehicle to keep him from leaving, but Friedmann allegedly accelerated towards her, nearly hitting her, before hitting her car twice, causing damage. She looked for a license plate on Friedmann’s car but didn’t see one.
Witnesses intervened and police showed up and arrested Friedmann, who admitted to spitting at the woman and striking her car. Friedmann has been released from court after posting bond. He is not allowed to contact the woman or any witnesses of the incident.
John McNamara, an attorney for Friedmann, said the professor didn’t use racial slurs during the encounter.
“It’s our position that it’s fabricated that he used any such language,” McNamara told a judge. “He’s a minority himself. He’s a child of immigrants. This is completely outside of his nature.”
A spokesperson for the National University of Health Sciences told The New York Post that Friedmann’s employment has been suspended pending the criminal investigation.