In wake of school vandalism, Lake County forest board condemns hate

  • Lake County Board member Jennifer Clark

    Lake County Board member Jennifer Clark

  • Lake County board member Jessica Vealitzek

    Lake County board member Jessica Vealitzek

 
 
Updated 2/11/2020 10:33 PM

Moved by anti-Semitic graffiti at a local school, the Lake County Forest Preserve District board on Tuesday formally condemned hate and discrimination.

The resolution, approved during the board's monthly meeting in Waukegan, is nearly identical to one the county board approved last month. Both boards consist of the same 21 members.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We want everyone in our community to feel welcome and safe in all our forest preserve lands, buildings and programs," board member Jennifer Clark, a Libertyville Democrat, said. "We stand with others in our community to provide an inclusive, respectful and safe environment to all."

The resolution was put forth by the district's diversity and cultural awareness committee, of which Clark is a member.

The resolution says the district "is committed to fostering a culture that embraces diversity and inclusion (and) seeks to understand our differences."

It denounces unlawful attacks, harassment, intimidation or disrespectful statements based on "race, ethnicity, color, immigration or refugee status, religion or creed, gender or sexual orientation, age, mental or physical disability, veteran status or other legally protected status."

"The district should be a welcoming place for all," the resolution states.

The document was approved without discussion or opposition.

The action followed the Dec. 30 discovery of spray-painted swastikas and other graffiti at Seth Paine Elementary School in Lake Zurich.

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The vandalism was reported to police by diversity committee member Jessica Vealitzek, a Hawthorn Woods Democrat who lives near the school.

No arrests have been made. The case remains under investigation, police said Tuesday.

Elected officials have a responsibility to set a positive example for children by speaking out against bigotry and hatred, Vealitzek said.

The graffiti wasn't an isolated incident.

Anti-Semitic graffiti and flyers from anti-Semitic groups have been discovered in Buffalo Grove, Wauconda, Mundelein and other suburbs in recent years.

Reports of anti-Semitic actions such as harassment, vandalism and assault were up 55% nationally between 2009 and 2018, according to the most recent data from the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights group especially focused on anti-Jewish hate. Fifty-one incidents were reported in Illinois in 2018, the seventh-highest total of any state,

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