Canning outburst prompts altercation at school board meeting
At the monthly Bremen High School District 228 Board of Education meeting, board member Larry Canning scuffled with audience members after shouting down his colleagues, ultimately resulting in the arrest of a man who Canning claimed assaulted him.
According to videos of the incident, Canning erupted after fellow board member Mark Johnson read a politically charged statement claiming Canning lied to voters and conducted questionable campaign practices.
Canning directed his ire at other members of the board and President Debi Stearns for allowing Johnson to raise the issue during the meeting. As Johnson spoke, Canning interrupted, escalating the situation, Stearns told South Cook News.
“I do believe Larry incited it,” Stearns said. “He refused to allow Mr. Johnson to speak, instead of waiting to rebut his comments he was going to talk over him and try to stop him.”
A group in the audience, all wearing leather vests, took issue with Canning's behavior. A cell phone video, first released by Daily Southtown columnist Ted Slowik, who acquired it from someone who attended, showed an altercation ensued between Canning and the group.
“Larry resorted to calling people names, using vulgarity etc., to which these gentlemen objected to,” Stearns said. “Mr. Canning should have recognized this was a public forum, children were present, he should have acted accordingly.”
In the cell phone video, Canning claimed he was assaulted by one of the men in the incident, prompting a call to police, who arrested the alleged assailant for assault, according to a Facebook post from the Parents for Progress and Slowik's coverage.
Johnson told South Cook News that Canning’s response to his statement was unwarranted.
“I was making a statement with facts that were corroborated with facts,” he said. “It was inappropriate. There are rules that I am now learning that the president could have asked him to step out as I read my statement. He shouldn’t carry on like that.
“He is wrong for the board and we are trying to get rid of him. He made a fool out of the board.”
Johnson said he filed a complaint against Canning and his Parents for Progress committee. The Illinois State Board of Elections has summoned Johnson and Canning for a hearing on the matter, according to documents obtained by this publication.
Canning took to social media to accuse the group that confronted him of being connected to Stearns, showing photos of a man who attended the beginning of the meeting and appeared at a Stearns fundraiser. Stearns said she had prior contact with just one member of the group who previously contributed to her campaign. She said she only knew him in that capacity.
The district released the footage of the April 18 board meeting. The incident began after 30 minutes. Videos of all meetings are published days for the benefit of residents in the district.
The video shows Canning used the term “lynch mob” to characterize the group of men from the audience that confronted him. A source told South Cook News that a teacher was almost terminated for using the same word.
A similar incident occurred at a meeting in February when board Vice President Kristine Resler read a statement, also political in nature, alleging Canning threatened and harassed her family. Canning was not in attendance at this meeting.
All of this comes after a hotly contested April 4 election in which Canning, Stearns and Evelyn Gleason were re-elected.