A man from the Northwest Side has been charged with hate crime after allegedly spray-painting swastikas and racist prison gang symbols on two Portage Park businesses this week. Brodie Blakeslee, 57, told police he defaced the stores “to let Black Lives Matter supporters know the neighborhood was protected,” an assistant state’s attorney said during a bail hearing on Sunday afternoon.
Blakeslee is accused of painting swastikas and the letters “AW” on the front and rear of Supreme Smoke, 4766 North Milwaukee, and Cannabist, 4758 North Milwaukee, on Tuesday. He is charged with two counts of felony hate crime.
Surveillance video clearly shows Blakeslee carrying spray paint and defacing one of the stores, prosecutors said.
The owner of Supreme Smoke identified Blakeslee from the video after recognizing swastika and AW tattoos on the offender’s arm, leg, chest, and body, prosecutors said. The prosecutor said Blakeslee used to work for Supreme Smoke, but the Chicago Tribune reported on Wednesday that the store’s owner recognized the vandal as a former customer.
According to prosecutors, the Supreme Smoke owner saw Blakeslee in the area on Thursday and called the police, who arrested him.
During an interview with police, Blakeslee allegedly admitted to defacing Supreme Smoke but claimed he had no recollection of painting the other store. According to the allegations, he told police that “AW” stood for “Aryan Warriors,” his prison gang, and the swastikas represented white reunification.
He also told police that he knew both stores displayed signs supporting Black Lives Matter and he “aimed to let Black Lives Matter supporters know the neighborhood was protected,” the prosecutor said.
Blakeslee served ten years in Nevada for a 1994 burglary, six years in California for a 2005 aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, and received probation in 2017 for aggravated assault in Chicago, according to prosecutors.
His assistant public defender, Courtney Smallwood, said he is the father of an adult child, lives with a roommate, and has managed an apartment building for ten years.
Judge Susana Ortiz set his bail at $20,000. Blakeslee must post 10% of the bail amount to get out of jail. If he posts bail, he must remain in his house from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., Ortiz said.