Shirt, gestures lead to trouble for veteran

 
 
  • Island Lake resident Greg Kachka, with the shirt he wore to a recent village board meeting, faces disorderly conduct charges after some board members called the shirt and his mannerisms threatening.

    Island Lake resident Greg Kachka, with the shirt he wore to a recent village board meeting, faces disorderly conduct charges after some board members called the shirt and his mannerisms threatening. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

Published: 4/30/2008 12:11 AM

A Vietnam veteran is in hot water with Island Lake officials over his gestures and choice of clothing during a board meeting last month.

Greg Kachka, 60, faces a pair of misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges after Trustee Debbie Herrmann and Village Clerk Christy Kaczmarek complained they felt threatened by his actions.

Kachka, of 3221 Hyacinth Terrace, said the trouble started March 13 when he questioned the board's legal fees while wearing a T-shirt with a picture of a Marine Corps sniper and the words, "Don't Move. If You Run, You'll Only Die Tired."

But police said the charges have less to do with the T-shirt.

"It is what he was doing with his right hand," Sgt. Anthony Sciarrone said. "Both of our complainants stated he made gestures where he had his index finger and thumb in a fashion portraying a handgun."

Sciarrone said police have a picture of Kachka making the gesture, taken from the board meeting videotape.

"I would not have signed a complaint if I did not feel just cause to do so," Herrmann said. "We've got a job to do up there and we shouldn't have to worry about residents being adverse to what we are doing."

Kaczmarek could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Kachka said he first realized he was in trouble four days after the board meeting when a police officer knocked on his door.

"I wasn't going to let him in, but we talked on the porch and he was a nice guy," Kachka said. "I let him in and showed him the T-shirt. He took a picture of it. A few days later I tried getting the police report but they refused, saying I was still under criminal investigation."

Kachka served in the Marines from 1966 to 1970 and is 70 percent disabled from injuries suffered in Vietnam. He said he has worn the shirt to other village meetings.

"I decided to voice my concerns and start asking questions and they didn't like it," he said. "I served my time and if anyone has a right to wear this shirt it's me."

Kachka said he bought the shirt from an Internet site where he frequently purchases clothing.

As far as making a violent gesture, Kachka said, Herrmann made a face at him when he sat down, so he pointed at her.

"I don't remember exactly how it was, but I didn't intentionally make an obscene gesture," he said. "I was just (ticked) off she was making faces at me."

Kachka said a police officer called him Monday and said he would be arrested for disorderly conduct if he didn't turn himself in and pay a $75 bond.

"I can't believe these people are doing this to me," he said. "This is America."

Sciarrone said Tuesday Kachka had refused to turn himself in, so officers will obtain a warrant for his arrest and pick him up within the next day.