AG Madigan Pushes Hate Crimes Law

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is urging lawmakers in the House this week to pass legislation to strengthen Illinois’ hate crimes law. Madigan says House Bill 3711 better protects Illinois residents from escalating incidents of hatred and bias.

The bill has already passed out of the House Judiciary – Criminal Committee by a vote of eight to five and will now be considered by the full chamber. Madigan initiated the legislation in response to a national increase of crimes motivated by hatred based on religion, national origin, gender identity and sexual orientation since the 2016 election. The bill adds the crimes of intimidation, cyberstalking and transmission of obscene messages to this list of crimes that can be prosecuted as hate crimes to address an increasing use of technology to attack victims. The legislation also ensures all victims of hate crimes are afforded the ability to file a civil cause of action in response to such incidents and imposes civil penalties.

“No one should live in fear because of who they are, where they are from or what they believe,” Madigan said. “The recent increase in hate crimes is deeply troubling, and we must strengthen our hate crimes law to help all of the people of Illinois feel safe.”

Chicago Police Department data shows that hate crimes reached a five-year high in 2016 and are outpacing that level in 2017, according to reports. The Southern Law Poverty Center also reported nearly 1,100 hate incidents nationally in the month after last fall’s election.