On Sept. 13, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul convened a roundtable meeting with representatives of leading civil rights organizations, places of worship and community-based groups to facilitate a conversation on fighting hate speech and targeted acts of violence in the state.
"I have made it a priority since taking office to ensure we are working in a comprehensive way to address the tragic rise in hate speech that often is directed at specific communities and can include violence," Raoul said in a statement. "Collaborating with organizations on the ground working to advance justice and equality is vital as we look to continue focusing on confronting hate in all of its forms."
Participating in the roundtable discussion were representatives from the Anti-Defamation League, Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago, Bright Star Community Church, Chinese American Service League, Equality Illinois, Equip for Equality, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Illinois Department of Human Rights, Jewish United Fund / Jewish Federation of Chicago, and Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
During the meeting, representatives from organizations in attendance described the issues facing the communities they serve, including threats based on immigration status, targeted acts of violence against faith-based communities, and coordinated attempts by extremist groups to restrict members of the LGBTQ+ community from using public spaces. The groups pointed out that such acts are often accompanied with hate speech.
Raoul provided an overview of his office's work and recent accomplishments in addressing violence and hate, including partnering with the U.S. Secret Service's National Threat Assessment Center; filing the attorney general's office's first hate crime lawsuit against a mother and son who harassed and terrorized their Black neighbor, in downstate Savanna; and advocating with fellow attorneys general in support of the rights of LGBTQ+ students.
Raoul urges individuals who experience or witness hate crimes to contact local law enforcement. Raoul also encourages people to report discrimination or hate-motivated incidents to his office by visiting illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/rights/Hate_Crime_Complaint_Form.pdf, emailing CivilRights@ilag.gov or calling his Civil Rights Hotline at 877-581-3692.