'Hate has been mainstreamed': Report details surge in extremism in Illinois
From the vandalism of a Lake in the Hills bakery to prevent a drag performance to antisemitic comments shouted at Deerfield High School soccer players to white supremacist propaganda left on driveways in Schaumburg and Palatine Township, incidents of hate are on the rise in the suburbs and state.
That's according to the new report "Hate in the Prairie State" released Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League.
The report examines extremist activity in the state from January 2021 through May 2023, and the results are, as one ADL leader put it this week, "alarming."
Some key findings:
• Antisemitic incidents rose 128% - 53 to 121 - from 2021 to 2022 and increased 430% since 2016. Illinois saw the seventh most antisemitic incidents in the nation last year.
• There were 198 documented instances of white supremacist propaganda distributed in the state last year, a 111% increase from 2021. There have been another 64 this year, most linked to the white supremacist group Patriot Front.
• The FBI tracked 101 reported hate crimes in Illinois in 2021, 80% more than in 2020.
"Our community members are being targeted because of who they love, where they're from, the religion they practice or the color of their skin," ADL Midwest Regional Director David Goldenberg said at a news conference Tuesday. "We must do more to protect Illinoisans from the impact of hate and extremism in our state."
Besides antisemitism and hate literature, Goldenberg cited a growing number of attacks on women's health facilities since the overturning of Roe v. Wade and campaigns to remove books with LGBTQ+ themes from public libraries as further reasons for concern.
The report also recounts the cases of a Downers Grove man indicted in North Carolina on allegations of sending phony writs of execution to elected officials, and a noted "sovereign citizen" and QAnon adherent speaking at an event in Elmhurst.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul laid some of the blame on social media platforms, saying their algorithms perpetuate hateful speech and allow it to grow.
"We know that hate doesn't stop at speech," he said. "It manifests itself into acts of targeted violence, violence against houses of faith and schools and other places where people gather."
Illinois is the sixth state for which the ADL has produced a report detailing incidents of hate.
"We chose Illinois because of the elevated numbers in the hope that leaders here can provide a model for others dealing with similar issues nationwide," said Oren Segal, vice president of ADL's Center on Extremism.
The ADL report makes five recommendations for state policymakers to address the surge in these events. They include:
• Convene a statewide summit to address hate-fueled violence and extremism;
• Create a commission to oversee a statewide, comprehensive policy to combat violent extremism and terrorism;
• Demand that social media platforms implement policies to protect victims of online harassment and curb hate speech;
• Require hate crime training for law enforcement and mandate reporting of hate crimes to the FBI;
• And protect civil rights, inclusive education policies and the right to vote.
"Hate has been mainstreamed," Goldenberg said. "It requires a whole-of-society approach."
To view the full report, visit chicago.adl.org.
Chairs to remember
The McHenry County Sheriff's Office unveiled two memorial chairs Wednesday that honor the sacrifice of fallen deputies Dwight Maness and Jake Keltner.
The chairs were handcrafted and donated by Saving A Hero's Place, a Texas-based organization that began making chairs in 2013 to honor the memories of fallen law enforcement officers. Over the last decade, the group has made nearly 250 chairs for departments across the country.
The chairs will be kept within the sheriff's office in Woodstock to ensure that Maness and Deputy always have a spot saved among their brothers and sisters in blue, officials said.
Maness, 47, died in September 2015, as a result of complications from gunshot wounds while responding to a domestic violence call 11 months earlier in Holiday Hills. The McHenry resident was a former U.S. Army Ranger and seven-year veteran of the sheriff's office.
Keltner, 35, died in March 2019, after he was shot at a Rockford motel while he and fellow members of a regional fugitive task force attempted to capture a man wanted in several counties across the state. The Crystal Lake resident and father of two had been with the sheriff's office for 13 years.
Curbing catalytic crimes
Valued for the rare metal with which they're made, catalytic converters - a pollution-cleansing component of your vehicle's exhaust system - make for a very attractive target for thieves.
In fact, 64,701 of them were reported stolen in the U.S. last year, nearly four times as many as the 16,660 in 2020, the National Insurance Crime Bureau says. Illinois had the fourth most in the country, with 2,021, trailing only California, Texas and Pennsylvania.
On Wednesday, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart unveiled a new tool that aims to make them a little less attractive.
The tool etches a vehicle's VIN number onto the auto part, making it harder for thieves to unload them and easier for law enforcement to track. That can save car owners not only the hassle of a few days with their vehicle in the shop, but also a lot of money - replacement costs can soar to $2,500 or more.
The sheriff's office will provide the etching for free at community events. You can find out when it's coming near you by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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