Dozens join in supporting Black Skokie resident's return to Winnetka pier after violent confrontation with Northfield woman caught on video

'All your Black friends get judged every day,' Skokie man said

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Sunday, September 6, 2020
Woman charged after confronting Black man on Winnetka pier, police say
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A North Shore woman is facing battery charges after an argument at a suburban beach turned violent.

WINNETKA, Ill. -- The Labor Day weekend bike ride for Otis Campbell was different from one he took in August, when he was harassed and threatened allegedly by area resident Irene Donoshaytis for being on a Winnetka beach pier with friends.

People at Saturday's bike ride near Lake Michigan kept saying, "Welcome." However, Campbell says he didn't feel unwelcome, even after Donoshaytis allegedly accosted him. In the now widely circulated video Campbell took of the encounter, the woman tells him to "go back to where you're from." He lives in Skokie.

"All your Black friends get judged every day," Campbell, using a microphone and speaker, told the group riding with him. "This happened. Now is the time to stand up against it."

Campbell says he regularly rides his Schwinn through the towns north of Chicago. One white woman insisting he wasn't welcome did not make him question what he believed about himself or his belonging, he said.

By the time riders took off on the trail toward the pier, there were more than 75 of them. Dozens more waited at the pier.

Donoshaytis, 65, of Northfield, has been charged with a hate crime after being accused of aggressively confronting Campbell and two other Black people who were riding bicycles near the pier. Defense attorney Jeffrey Fagan says the incident "amounts to a misunderstanding between the parties that was escalated based on the timing of where we are as a culture,"

RELATED: Northfield woman arrested after confrontation with Black man at Winnetka pier turns violent

The Cook County State's Attorney office said police are still investigating the incident.

Otis Campbell, 25, said he and his friends were at Tower Pier near the Winnetka Beach for less than five minutes when a woman told them they had to leave.

"I need to see your passes," the woman can be heard saying on the video.

"As soon as she told us that 'we needed passes, and we could not be here, this is Winnetka and she pays to be here and this is America,' I took it upon myself to start recording her," Campbell said.

The video captured Donoshaytis confronting Campbell, questioning whether the group had beach passes.

"There was multiple people coming down the pier doing exactly what we did," Campbell said. "The only difference was that they were white and we were Black. She said that we were not American, that we needed to go back to where we belong from, she said we pay to be here."

The two alerted the employee on duty who explained that the area where Campbell was sitting is public property.

"They can sit there. Do you want me to call my manager?" the employee can be heard saying on the video.

Campbell, a first-generation U.S. citizen and Skokie resident, believes this was a racially-motivated incident.

On the video, Donoshaytis asks Campbell: "Do you want to kill me?"

He responds: "No. Why would I want to kill you? Is it because I am Black?"

"Yes," Donoshaytis said.

The argument turned physical when Campbell said Donoshaytis hit him.

"Irene turned around and hit me twice - multiple times - on camera," he said.

Winnetka police responded, and the 65-year-old was arrested and charged with battery at the time.

"She was still saying, we 'cannot be there,' still saying that we 'needed passes,' while being handcuffed - all happening while people were coming to the pier," Campbell said.

Campbell said the woman's actions were hurtful, and he wishes she would have just left them alone.

The battery charges were dropped last week, and a hate crime charge was filed Wednesday.

WLS-TV to this report.

The video in the player above is from an earlier story.