City Councilman Vincent Anello placed a local businessman under citizen's arrest Thursday for allegedly slapping him in the face in the 300 block of 24th Street.
David Bieksza, 49, of 316 24th St., who was charged with harassment at 11 a.m., said he did not hit the councilman.
He said Anello was the aggressor by "yelling and screaming and swearing" at him from the sidewalk in front of his auto shop, the Superior Service Center, because of comments he made the last two days on WJJL 1440 Radio's "The People's Voice" call-in program about Anello's candidacy for re-election to the Council.
Anello said Bieksza's claims are not true. Bieksza was to be arraigned today in City Court.
Bieksza said he questioned Anello's candidacy for re-election on the radio because the incumbent is running for a four-year Council term even though he intends to take an administrative post with the city if John Accardo beats out Mayor James C. Galie for the city's top office.
"If he tells the people he will be a councilman for four years, he should do that. He shouldn't have plans to take a job with the city," Bieksza said.
"After I said that, I heard Anello on the radio, saying: 'You are a liar. I never said any of that.' He said, 'When I leave the (radio) station, I'm coming to your garage and calling you a liar to your face,' " Bieksza said.
Bieksza said Anello came as promised. He said he parked and came slowly across the street with his hand in his pocket and started "yelling and screaming ans swearing." He said Anello stood on the sidewalk and told him if he approached him on city property, he would have him arrested for harassment.
When Bieksza approached and exchanged words with him, he said two plainclothes police officers came from a car in a nearby church parking lot and arrested him, stating Anello was pressing charges against him.
When that happened, "He (Anello) laughed and said, 'Only in America can you get justice,' " Bieksza said.
"I feel like I was set up" by Anello, Bieksza said.
Anello said the two plainclothes officers just happened to be in the area and he had nothing to do with them being there. He did say he signed a document making a citizen's arrest. Anello also said he does not care about Bieksza making comments on his record.
He said, however, he is angry with Bieksza for questioning his moral character.
"He's been at me for weeks. He keeps saying I'm a bought man. He's been saying I represent special interests like I'm a political hack. I do what I feel is in the city's best interests," Anello said.
"I said he was a liar because he questioned my ethics and integrity and has made inferences that my ethnic background makes me more inclined to violence and criminal activity than other people," Anello said.
Police officials could not be reached for comment.