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May 10, 2017

ATTORNEY GENERAL MADIGAN: LEGISLATION TO STRENGTHEN HATE CRIMES LAW PASSES SENATE COMMITTEE

Madigan Applauds Support for Legislation Following Hate Crimes Summit with Civil Rights Leaders on Impact of Federal Immigration Executive Orders

Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan today applauded an Illinois Senate committee for passing legislation to strengthen Illinois’ hate crimes law. House Bill 3711 would better protect Illinois residents from escalating incidents of hatred and bias.

House Bill 3711, sponsored by state Sen. Omar Aquino, passed out of the Senate Criminal Law Committee Tuesday and will now be considered by the full Senate. Madigan initiated the legislation in response to a national increase of crimes motivated by hatred based on religion, national origin, gender identity and sexual orientation since the 2016 election. The bill adds the crimes of cyberstalking, transmission of obscene messages and certain acts of intimidation to the list of crimes that can be prosecuted as hate crimes to address the increasing use of technology to attack victims. The legislation also ensures all victims of hate crimes are afforded the ability to file a civil cause of action in response to these incidents and imposes civil penalties.

“The number of incidents fueled by hate is escalating in Illinois and around the country,” Madigan said. “We must strengthen our laws and send a message that we will not tolerate acts of hate in our state.”

“That any of our residents should feel unsafe because of where they are from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love is unacceptable,” Sen. Aquino said. “I appreciate the Attorney General’s leadership and am committed to working with my Senate colleagues to send this measure to the governor’s desk.”

Chicago Police Department data shows that hate crimes reached a five-year high in 2016 and are outpacing that level in 2017. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also recently released a study showing a dramatic 85 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents, including assaults, vandalism and harassment, during the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same time period in 2016. The ADL also found that anti-Semitic incidents at non-Jewish elementary, middle and high schools increased 106 percent, and a new anti-Semitic message is posted on social media every 83 seconds.

HB 3711 strengthens the Illinois Hate Crimes Act by:

  • Expanding the reach of protection from hate crimes to address perpetrators’ increased use of technology to attack victims. The measure adds the existing crimes of stalking, cyberstalking, transmission of obscene messages and portions of the crime of intimidation to the list of crimes that can be prosecuted as hate crimes.
  • Providing the Attorney General with civil enforcement authority. Illinois would join at least six other states that have similar authority.
  • Ensuring all victims of hate crimes are afforded a civil remedy. Offenses such as telephone harassment, harassment through electronic communications or disorderly conduct currently do not give rise to civil cause of action under Illinois’ current hate crimes law. HB 3711 closes that gap.
  • Allowing judges to impose a civil penalty of up to $25,000 for each violation.

In February, Attorney General Madigan convened a summit with civil rights leaders to discuss the impact of federal Executive Orders on the nearly 2 million immigrants who live in Illinois. As part of that summit, Madigan and the civil rights leaders discussed the need to increase protections against hate crimes.

Along with this legislative effort, Madigan called on Governor Rauner to protect Illinois immigrants and refugees from discrimination and hate crimes. Madigan has also urged the Governor to restore the Illinois Hate Crimes Commission.

Attorney General Madigan’s Civil Rights Bureau protects the civil rights of all Illinois residents. The Bureau enforces civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination, works to strengthen the civil rights laws, and participates in community outreach programs. The Bureau also investigates complaints of patterns and practices of discrimination in housing, public accommodations, employment, and financial matters. Attorney General Madigan encourages individuals to contact her office to report instances of discrimination or harassment by calling her Civil Rights Hotline at 1-877-581-3692.

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