If you believe you have been a victim of a hate crime, call 911 to contact the Chicago Police Department immediately! It is imperative that you tell the police why you feel that hatred was a motivating factor in the crime for the additional felony charges of hate crime to be added. If you need assistance in reporting a hate crime, call the Commission at (312) 744-4874.
Hate crimes are acts of bigotry, and are committed because of the intended victim’s actual or perceived ancestry, color, creed, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability (including HIV status), or national origin. Hate crimes not only harm the victim, but also the group in which the targeted member belongs.
Hate crimes can only be charged when another crime such as battery, assault, aggravated assault, criminal damage to property, criminal trespass to vehicle or to real property, mob action, looting, disorderly conduct or harassment by telephone occurs and a specific hate motive is established. Hate Crime is a Class 4 felony. If a convicted hate crime offender receives a probationary sentence, the court may also impose community service hours.
According to Illinois law, hate can be considered an aggravating factor and “accorded weight in favor of imposing a term of imprisonment or may be considered by the court as reason to impose a more severe sentence.”
The Chicago Commission on Human Relations, in conjunction with the Civil Rights Unit of the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office provides support to hate crime victims. Commission staff and concerned community volunteers are available to accompany victims to court hearings, visit hate crime victims, and provide referrals for important support services. Some of these services include the assistance of the State’s Attorney’s Office to prosecute hate crime offenders in criminal court, and pro bono (free) legal assistance from volunteer private attorneys to sue hate crime offenders in civil court for damages for psychological and physical injuries.
Hate crimes tear at the fabric of our communities and our city, where respect for and appreciation of the diverse cultures that make up Chicago is a critical component for our neighborhoods continuing to function in an open and inclusive way. The City of Chicago has taken a firm stand against hate and bigotry, and with the help of all of its citizens, we can strive to reduce the incidence of hate crimes and ensure that the perpetrators are punished to the full extent of the law.