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.