Surge in Hate Crimes Prompts Chicago Lawyers' Committee to Organize and Advocate

The political rhetoric of this election cycle has fed an alarming increase in harassment and hate crimes directed at African-Americans, immigrants, Muslims, LGBT individuals, women, people with disabilities, and others. The Southern Poverty Law Center documented 867 hate crimes in the ten days after the election; in Illinois, 25 hate crimes were reported during the same short post-election period. This social crisis demands swift action.

The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights (CLC) has a 25-year history of fighting hate crimes through legal representation of those targeted in criminal and civil courts, education, and policy advocacy. We have trained thousands of community residents and professionals, helped to pass a strong Illinois Hate Crime Act, and worked to secure criminal convictions and civil verdicts, including thousands of dollars in damages awarded to compensate hate crime victims and deter more of these criminal acts. Importantly, our approach emphasizes alternatives to over-criminalization and the use of restorative justice to address hate violence.
Today, we re-affirm our commitment to supporting individuals and communities targeted by hate speech and violence. Effective immediately, CLC will:

  • Convene a group of representatives from diverse communities and organizations concerned about bias and hate crimes to gather information and coordinate our response;

  • Train and mobilize volunteer attorneys to advocate for victims of hate crimes in criminal court proceedings and provide legal representation in civil cases;

  • Conduct trainings on hate crimes protections for community groups, service provider organizations, and educational institutions;

  • Establish a dedicated phone line to collect reports of hate bias and hate crimes, and provide support and information to callers.

People who are victims of hate crimes should call 911. Most hate crimes are not reported and they must be. Victims and other interested parties can call CLC's Hate Crime Project at 312-202-3663.

Hate crime is bigotry at its worst. In a country that stands for equal rights and equal protection for all, violent intolerance is unacceptable. Whenever hate rises, CLC will respond with a powerful, resolute voice and prompt action.