Hate Crime Prevention Panel Held by ‘Cook County United Against Hate’

Hate Crime Prevention Panel Held by 'Cook County United Against Hate'
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Hate Crime Prevention Panel Held by ‘Cook County United Against Hate’ (River Forest, IL) — On Tuesday, March 12, Cook County Commissioner Frank J. Aguilar joined Commissioner Scott Britton, Commissioner Tara Stamps, Commissioner Maggie Trevor, and River Forest Mayor Catherine Adduci to host a workshop on how hate crimes and hate incidents are handled by Cook County criminal and civil agencies.

The panel featured representatives from Cook County Departments including the Sheriff’s Office, State’s Attorney, Department of Human Rights and Ethics, and Public Defender. Experts discussed how incidents of hate are investigated, the criteria to determine a crime, the prosecutorial process, and how the County partners to repair victims and communities. Attendees left knowing how they can play an important role in identifying a hate crime and supporting their community, and what we can all do to prevent hate before it becomes a crime.

“These conversations force us to think about how we ensure justice is served for those who experience hate crimes and give residents the tools they need to be leaders in combating hate in their communities,” said Commissioner Aguilar. “We cannot do this alone, and so with our partners, we are able to present a united front and be unequivocal that hate has no home in Cook County.”

“Our goal is to equip residents with the knowledge to respond to a hate crime should they have the misfortune of witnessing such an event,” said Commissioner Britton. “We are living in difficult and emotionally charged times. Education is key. Giving the community the tools to properly report a hate crime, creating awareness of available support services, and introducing tactics for disrupting hate in their communities is paramount. Together, we can stand up and say, ‘hate is not the answer.’”

As of October 31, 2023, at least 256 hate crimes had been reported in the Chicago area, far surpassing the 206 reported in the whole of 2022. Hate crimes in every category, which can range from vitriolic graffiti to homicide, have been on the rise over the last 22 years. This comes amid a rise a white nationalism, anti-Asian rhetoric during the pandemic, sweeping anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric, and heightened antisemitism and anti-Muslim sentiment.

“Prejudice and hate that leads to violence and other repulsive behavior just because of someone’s race, religion, economic status, etc. is completely against what we stand for as a society and will never be accepted,” said Sheriff Thomas J. Dart. “Citizens need to be aware of these rights and be assured we are committed to pursuing justice for victims of hate crimes.”

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“The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office is steadfast in its commitment to prosecute those who perpetrate hate crimes, ensuring justice for victims and maintaining the fabric of our diverse community,” said State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. “As we continue to experience a rise in hate crimes, this panel discussion is a vital step towards educating and empowering our residents to recognize and report hate crimes. By working together we can fight against acts of intolerance and prejudice and create a safer, more inclusive Cook County where hate has no refuge.”

“Enforcing anti-discrimination and harassment laws in Cook County is of the utmost importance,” Jennifer King, Esq., Director of the Cook County Commission on Human Rights, said. “Cook County Commission on Human Rights works diligently to ensure individuals who experience discrimination and harassment can file a complaint in our jurisdiction or are directed to a peer agency with jurisdiction or a community-based organization for additional support. We are grateful to everyone who is working to make Cook County a welcoming place.”

“The Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender is excited to be a part of this discussion and stand together with our counterparts in believing that hate crimes must be eradicated.  We look forward to solutions that prioritize community safety and healing,” said Cook County Public Defender Sharone R. Mitchell, Jr.

Cook County United Against Hate was launched in 2022 to inspire everyone, everywhere to be proactive in standing against racism, bigotry, and discrimination of any kind. Learn more about Cook County United Against Hate: https://www.cookcountyunitedagainsthate.com/

Hate Crime Prevention Panel Held by ‘Cook County United Against Hate’

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