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Waukegan council censures alderman who posted severed-arm photo; ‘All I wanted was an apology to the people involved’

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The Waukegan City Council voted 6-3 Monday to censure Ald. Keith Turner, 6th Ward, for posting on social media a photo of a severed human arm apparently from a dead Milwaukee woman, which “added a layer of cruelty to a grieving family,” according to the resolution.

“All I wanted was an apology to the people involved,” Ald. Jose A. Guzman, 2nd Ward, said before casting his yes vote.

Instead of saying he was sorry, Turner — an announced candidate for mayor in 2025 — defended his Facebook post as part of his campaign for transparency in city government.

“My only intentions are to seek and provide transformative transparency to Waukegan, especially when the administration goes to extraordinary lengths to restrict information from our residents,” he said at the meeting.

Mayor Ann Taylor and former Mayor Sam Cunningham have also announced their plans to run for the city’s top elected position next year.

Though Turner never disclosed how he got the photo of the arm found by someone walking on a Waukegan beach on May 11, he soon posted it on social media criticizing Waukegan officials for not being forthcoming about the discovery.

After Waukegan police opened an investigation, they determined the arm may have come from Sade Robinson, 19, a Milwaukee college student killed and dismembered there on April 1. A man has been charged in the killing.

While Guzman said he understands Turner made the social media post because he wanted transparency from city officials, he added that Turner went overboard in his effort, losing sight of emotions others may be feeling.

“I understand he probably went a little further than he should have and people were unhappy,” Guzman said. “It should have been done with an apology, and it would have been over with.”

Ald. Victor Felix, 4th Ward, also said Turner went too far in his quest for transparency. As elected officials, Felix said there are procedures council members must follow before releasing information.  He voted for the censure resolution.

“He wanted transparency, but at the end of the day we need to have our professionalism,’ Felix said. “We need to understand our process of doing things and our duties. People do things they regret later.”

With Guzman saying all he wanted was an apology and with Felix hinting at it, Taylor said after the meeting if Turner had shown remorse when he spoke rather than launching a political attack, the censure resolution would probably have been rejected.

“He criticizes, but he does not take responsibility,” Taylor said of Turner. “He needed to apologize one way or another and this could have been entirely different.”

Asked if he wanted to speak, Turner read from prepared remarks, starting with criticism of Taylor and Ald. Lynn Florian, 8th Ward. Florian started the procedure to put the censure resolution on the council agenda.

“Tonight we are witnessing another episode in a troubling pattern of attacks against me,” Turner said. “These attacks are not random. They are deliberate and orchestrated to undermine my campaign for transparency.”

Attacks by Turner are not uncommon at council meetings. During a special City Council meeting on May 23, someone making a presentation about a development in downtown Waukegan said people were all treated equally, to which Florian took exception.

“Women are not treated equally to men,” she said. “Do you know how much money women make on the dollar to men? It’s about 84 cents per hour less.”

“Do you know how much harder men work than women,” Turner said in response, as Florian threw her hands in the air.

“Let’s move on,” Taylor said, as the discussion of the development continued.

Joining Guzman and Felix voting for the resolution Monday were Florian, Ald. Sylvia Sims Bolton, 1st Ward, Ald. Juan Martinez, 3rd Ward and Ald. Thomas Hayes, 9th Ward. Voting against it were Turner, Ald. Edith Newsome, 5th Ward, and Ald. Michael Donnenwirth, 7th Ward.

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