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AG Madigan wants expansion of hate crime law

Friday, Feb 24, 2017

* Sun-Times

Responding to what she called a spike in reports of harassment and vandalism targeting Jews, Muslims and other minorities, Attorney General Lisa Madigan is calling for legislation that would broaden Illinois hate crime laws.

Madigan on Thursday hosted a “summit” at the Thompson Center, with a panel of leaders from two dozen advocacy groups, ranging from the Jewish United Fund to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, to Lambda Legal and the National Immigrant Justice Center. The disparate groups were concerned about an increase in hostility toward Muslims, immigrants and LGBTQ people they claim has coincided with Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency.

“We just had active-shooter training at our office, because we also realize that we have to keep our people safe,” said Kim Fountain, chief operating officer of Center on Halsted, an LGBTQ rights organization. “It scared a lot of our staff, but we had to do it.”

Madigan is backing legislation that would make electronic harassment on Facebook, Twitter or other social media a prosecutable offense, and also would give her office the power to pursue civil damages for victims of hate crimes.

* The proposed new provisions are underlined and bolded

A person commits hate crime when, by reason of the actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin of another individual or group of individuals, regardless of the existence of any other motivating factor or factors, he or she commits assault, battery, aggravated assault, intimidation, stalking, cyberstalking, misdemeanor theft, criminal trespass to residence, misdemeanor criminal damage to property, criminal trespass to vehicle, criminal trespass to real property, mob action, disorderly conduct, transmission of obscene messages, harassment by telephone, or harassment through electronic communications as these crimes are defined in [other statutes].

* From the synopsis, it also adds this provision

Provides that independent of any criminal prosecution or the result of a criminal prosecution, any person suffering intimidation, stalking, cyberstalking, disorderly conduct, transmission of obscene messages, harassment by telephone, or harassment through electronic communications may bring a civil action for damages, injunction or other appropriate relief. Provides that the Attorney General may bring an action for civil damages for a hate crime in the name of the People of the State. Provides that the court shall impose a civil penalty of $25,000 for each violation of the hate crime statute.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anon - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:35 am:

    Seems kinda vague. If I tweet at a politician telling them to f*ck off, is that a crime?

  2. - A guy - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:36 am:

    It seemed the law was pretty comprehensive before and would allow for appropriate prosecution. If this is keeping up with technology and being more precise, it’s probably a good thing. The new law though, does seem to open up to a lot more interpretation.

  3. - NoGifts - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:39 am:

    I too think it is vague. “obscene messages?” And I have felt that we already have laws to protect people from harassment. Why do we need a special case? Plus I don’t think any rapes have been prosecuted as hate crimes, and is there another crime more motivated by hate?

  4. - Anon - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:40 am:

    buzzweed: where’s your source on that?

  5. - Mama - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:40 am:

    The Attorney General is correct in adding her proposed new provisions.

    I feel schools need to explain the harassment law to their students and tell them what their rights are if they are harassed.

  6. - East Central Illinois - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:41 am:

    The phrase ” . . . any person suffering intimidation . . . ” seems very vague. People can “feel intimidated” all the time over a variety of issues. Situations that could possibly come into play would be someone disagreeing with a politician or a supporter of a politician - - sermons (some people MIGHT get offended or intimidated by a sermon). Heck . . . even on this site from time to time it could be argued that commenters get possibly get “intimidated”.

  7. - downstate commissioner - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:44 am:

    $25,000 seems a bit muvh for a facebook comment put up by some teenager. Threats and obscene messages are a long way from burning a cross or beating someone up.
    Modernizing the statute is okay, but overkill on punishments just doesn’t work….

  8. - Mama - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:45 am:

    Would the AG’s new law help the people being harassed by the federal government?

  9. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:45 am:

    This is the problem with Hate Crime Laws. They try to regulate thought and speech. That’s a very slippery slope.

  10. - Anon - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:45 am:

    Apparently, transmission of obscene messages is already a crime. Who knew!

    (720 ILCS 5/26.5-1)
    Sec. 26.5-1. Transmission of obscene messages.
    (a) A person commits transmission of obscene messages when he or she sends messages or uses language or terms which are obscene, lewd or immoral with the intent to offend by means of or while using a telephone or telegraph facilities, equipment or wires of any person, firm or corporation engaged in the transmission of news or messages between states or within the State of Illinois.
    (b) The trier of fact may infer intent to offend from the use of language or terms which are obscene, lewd or immoral.

  11. - @MisterJayEm - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:48 am:

    A mandatory penalty of $25,000 for each alleged violation — e.g. intimidation, disorderly conduct, transmission of obscene messages, or harassment through electronic communications — if the alleged offense is merely determined to be more likely to be true than not true?

    The proposed hate crime civil action looks overly broad and ruinously severe to me.

    – MrJM

  12. - Mama - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:50 am:

    “$25,000 seems a bit muvh for a facebook comment put up by some teenager”

    I think the fee should be $5,000. The fee needs to be high enough to get the parents to stop their kids from harassing others. Teenage Facebook posts are not harmless.

  13. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:56 am:

    The language is too broad. I don’t like the civil penalty pile on.

    There are passages in the Christian Bible and Koran that could qualify as hate speech today. Is it now illegal to post those passages?

  14. - Roman - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:57 am:

    Buzzweed, still waiting for your source.

  15. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:58 am:

    After she worked to prevent union employees from being paid, why not concoct a half thought out policy that likely infringes upon the 1st amanedment? Bring those favorable back up, right? A resolution to save the whales might have done an equal job without future freedom of speech lawsuits.

  16. - Saluki - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 12:02 pm:

    Political pandering.

  17. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 12:06 pm:

    Yes, Saluki, because on any post that relates at all to race, we can always count on you to chime in.

  18. - @MisterJayEm - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 12:06 pm:

    “CAIR, which was designated by U.S. government as terrorist linked.”


    The State Department’s list of designated terrorist organizations:

    Or, if reading isn’t your strong suit, here is video of a State Department spokesman saying Nov. 18, 2014: “The United States does not consider these U.S. organizations to be terrorist organizations,” going on to specify CAIR and Muslim American Society by name:

    And any credibility you may have had, buzzweed? Gone.

    – MrJM

  19. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 12:14 pm:

    Religious affiliation and LGBTQ community include all races. It is equal opportunity political pandering.

  20. - flippy - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 12:41 pm:

    “If I tweet at a politician telling them to f*ck off, is that a crime?”

    Possibly yes if you then insert a wildy insensitive racist inflammatory slur after “f*ck off”. Maybe.

  21. - Lobo y Olla - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 1:17 pm:

    A mandatory penalty of $25,000 for each alleged violation — e.g. intimidation, disorderly conduct, transmission of obscene messages, or harassment through electronic communications — if the alleged offense is merely determined to be more likely to be true than not true?

    This is the standard for all civil cases. Nothing new.

  22. - Liberty - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 1:48 pm:

    US ally United Arab Emirates declared CAIR a terrorist organization.

  23. - @MisterJayEm - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 1:59 pm:

    “US ally United Arab Emirates declared CAIR a terrorist organization.”

    And the State Department of the United States of America EXPLICITLY stated, “The United States does not consider these U.S. organizations [CAIR and the Muslim American Society] to be terrorist organizations.”

    But if you would rather take your cues from the UAE instead of the USA, nobody’s gonna stop you.

    – MrJM

  24. - walker - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 2:08 pm:

    Politicians, per se, are not a protected class in this statute. Bringing them, and political speech, into this discussion, are red herrings.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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