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Acts of hate are on the rise in Illinois, disturbing new report says

Hate crimes on the rise in Illinois, report says
Hate crimes on the rise in Illinois, report says 02:24

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Hate in Illinois is on the rise, according to disturbing findings released Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League.

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey has been combing through the new report, which highlights a rise in antisemitism, incidents involving white supremacists, attacks on LGBTQ+ businesses, and other forms of hate across Illinois.

Indeed unfortunately, it is many groups that have been targeted. Hate crimes are being reported more frequently - even though it is believed that they're still very much underreported in Illinois.

Making victims more comfortable coming forward is one focus of state and local leaders.

Back in February 2017, surveillance video captured a man smashing the front window of the Chicago Loop Synagogue on Clark Street. Nazi Stickers were placed on the doors.

"The windows were replaced. The stickers were removed," said Lee Zoldan, president of the Chicago Loop Synagogue, "but the invisible scars remain for all of us."

Unfortunately since then, the Anti-Defamation League's latest report - covering January 2021 to May 2023 - shows these crimes now happen more frequently.

Read the full report -- Hate in the Prairie State: Extremism & Antisemitism in Illinois

Report shows hate crimes are on the rise in Illinois 02:44

Community organizations and local leaders gathered at the Chicago Loop Synagogue to discuss the findings.

"There are about 300,000 Jews in Chicago," said Daniel Goldwin of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation.

Goldwin said as a result, every year, Jewish organizations budget at least $10 million for security.

"It's $10 million to harden windows, to put bollards out, hire security guards, do trainings - all of which were important," he said, "but imagine what could be happening every year if that $10 million is put to much better use."

And it's not just antisemitic hate. Also standing out were the vandalism and attacks against UpRising Bakery and Café in far northwest suburban Lake in the Hills in July of last year for planning to host a drag bunch.

UpRising Bakery and Cafe said it decided to close in March after the harassment for its support of the LGBTQ+ community.

"Attacking libraries, schools, queer kids - through book bans, through bombing threats," said Michael Ziri, director of policy for Equality Illinois.

Also documented is anti-abortion hate directed at women's health facilities.

"A person firebombed our Peoria Health Center after watching anti-abortion propaganda on his phone," said Cristina Villarreal, chief of external affairs for Planned Parenthood of Illinois.

That happened in January of this year.

Meanwhile, violence against Asian Americans also soared at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

FBI crime data show hate crime reports across the board are on the rise. In 2022, the ADL documented 198 instances of white supremacist propaganda materials distributed across Illinois - an increase of 111 percent from the year before.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said one of the biggest sources inspiring hate is social media. His office has challenged social media platforms to examine their algorithms in relation to have speech.

"Hate speech often evolves into something more than speech," Raoul said.

One of the topics discussed was the fact that hate crimes need to be reported to police, but some people don't trust law enforcement.

Meanwhile, the report also looked at the disturbing trend of law enforcement with extremist ties.  

Raoul said the Attorney General's office is focusing a U.S. Department of Justice grant on hate crime training for law enforcement. Two trainings are scheduled for December, Raoul said.

"We have to recognize that, and we have to have have mechanisms to root that out," Raoul said.

Also thanks to a DOJ grant, Illinois will open a helpline next spring to support Illinois residents who experience bias or hate. This group hopes that will help encourage more reporting from residents who might be uncomfortable talking to law enforcement. 

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