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"Hate littering" could result in $1,000 fine under proposed Chicago ordinance

Alderman seeks to punish "hate littering" in Chicago
Alderman seeks to punish "hate littering" in Chicago 04:49

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Anyone caught distributing flyers containing hateful speech in Chicago could be hit with $1,000 fines under a proposal Ald. Timmy Knudsen (43rd) introduced to the City Council on Wednesday.

Knudsen introduced the "Stop Hate Littering Ordinance" after a wave of antisemitic flyers popped up earlier this month on the North Side, inside zip-lock bags also containing a substance resembling rat poison.

Police counted 84 bags in all on the hoods of cars in the Lincoln Park neighborhood near Geneva Terrace and Belden Avenue. The most recent incident happened just blocks away from where dozens of flyers with antisemitic messages were placed on cars in Lincoln Park in February.

It was unclear if the same person or people were responsible for both incidents, but Knudsen and Lincoln Park residents were calling for accountability.

"This spread fear throughout the community, so we spoke up fast," Knudsen said.

Knudsen has proposed expanding the city's hate crime law to prohibit the posting of any "hateful of threatening material that is intended to or is reasonably likely to intimidate, emotionally abuse, slander, or threaten another person" in any public place or on someone's private property without their consent. Violations could result in a fine of $500 to $1,000.

"The goal of it is so that, if and when a hate incident like what occurred in Lincoln Park last week occurs again, that if we are able to identify the person committing the hate flyering or littering, we then have an arm where we can ticket, we can penalize, and we can start to push back on these hate groups, these largely white supremacist groups that are organizing hate flyering in our community," Knudsen said.

The alderman said the ordinance is crafted after similar measures in cities like San Diego, where a state lawmaker has introduced legislation to make it easier to penalize people who distribute flyers that contain hateful speech.

Knudsen's proposed ordinance has been referred to the Committee on Health and Human Relations, which would have to debate and vote on the measure before it could be approved by the full City Council.

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