Teens attacked in south loop for Biden 2020 drawing


Photo courtesy of Alex Hadac

Alex Hadac, 19, kneels behind chalk art. Residents of the South Loop came together to embrace chalk art after Hadac was verbally and physically assaulted.

On Nov. 4, Alexis Hadac, 19, and Haylee Sandoval, 19, of Berwyn, were babysitting when they took the kids to get some fresh air at the Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens, which ended with a physical altercation for writing “Biden 2020” and “BLM.”

Hadac and the kids were drawing with sidewalk chalk, and, since the presidential election was the previous day, Hadac wrote “Biden 2020” and “BLM” in representation of the Black Lives Matter movement, which led to the altercation.

According to Hadac, the two individuals who attacked her and Sandoval have been identified as Lorena Petani and her son, Lucio Zapata. 

As shown in a video, Petani approached the girls about their drawing. Petani said that she considered their drawing of “Biden 2020” and “BLM” to be tagging and offensive since her husband is a police officer. 

The teens explained in the video that their drawing would wash away and that if Petani wanted to draw something for an issue she cared about, nobody would stop her. 

Petani responded that she pays more in taxes than the two girls, and went on to claim that it was her park.

“This is my park,” Petani said in the video. “I’m sure I pay a lot more [in taxes] than you.”

Hadac took the altercation to be a personal attack from Petani and Zapata, and that Petani was trying to take control of the park. 

“I took it as almost a personal attack, it was offensive how she felt entitled to dictate what we were doing and to claim that it was her park, her tone was very condescending overall,” Hadac said. 

While Petani did initiate most of the altercation, Zapata joined Petani in attacking the teens. 

Zapata slammed both Hadac and Sandoval to the floor. He then continued to punch and kick the two babysitters after pushing them to the ground, according to Hadac.


Community members of South Loop come together for a chalk art event in support of Hadac and Sandoval. (Photo courtesy of Alex Hadac)

According to Hadac, the police told her that Petani will likely face charges for her actions. Hadac did not mention anything about Zapata. 

Tensions have been rising across the country in light of the recent election, exacerbated further by President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud. 

Hadac said she thinks Trump might be to blame for altercations like this one and several others across the country.

“[Trump] incites a lot of violence, he encourages them and he basically pushed it on and we’ve since his presidency a rise in race-related crimes — hate crimes, honestly,” Hadac said.

David Williams, a political science professor at DePaul University, said there has been a growing sense of resentment across the country that he believes to be triggered by a combination of economic inequality, xenophobia, racism and more. 

“I think for many of Trump’s supporters, the prospect of [a] loss in this election represents an existential threat,” Williams said. “The same might very well be said of those who support Biden.”

Hadac said she agrees with Williams’ statement of the election posing an existential threat to Trump supporters. 

“With just how open Trump is with his clear homophobia, his clear racism, his clear bias towards women in general too, there’s a lot of things he sets back to conservative times that we’ve worked to move past,” Hadac said. “I feel like these people are using him as kind of a shield, like an excuse to keep living up to these terrible actions to make it seem like it’s okay.”

In defense, Petani said in the video she did not want one thing to lead to another in regards to these messages.

Petani claimed her husband is a police officer, which resulted in these messages being interpreted as insulting. Petani continued to say in the video that she does not want recent issues regarding police to escalate.

Petani declined multiple requests for comment. 

The South Loop community has come together in the aftermath of this event by reaching out to Hadac and working together to spread messages of love throughout the community. Hadac said she wanted to make the community feel more united. 

This was accomplished by teaming up with the South Loop Community Watch Group to create a “chalk out.” The chalk out event brought together members of the community to draw messages of support to symbolize that these actions are unacceptable.

The turnout for this chalk out event was more than what Hadac expected. Several volunteers came to participate in the chalk out, including a muffin man and a balloon maker.

“Since this all started over chalk, we invited the entire community to come and basically fill the sidewalks with messages of love,” Hadac said. “Try and [show] that kind of hate is not tolerated.”