On April 17, Trustees Khem Khoeun and Keith Robinson and Corporation Counsel Michael Lorge presented to the Village Board a program aimed at reducing potential hate crimes in Skokie.
By focusing on bias or hate incidents, often seen as gateways to hate crime, the program aims to provide opportunities to address situations in which hate interaction exists and to blunt or stop the hate crime that could grow from it.
What’s the difference between a hate crime and a hate incident?
A hate crime is a criminal offence motivated in part or whole by bias against another person’s race, color, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. These acts can be verbal, physical, or visual. An example could be creating racist or derogatory graffiti on someone else’s property based on their perceived protected class.
A hate incident is any hostile expression that may be motivated by another person’s race, color, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity but does not necessarily constitute a criminal offence. These acts can be verbal, physical, or visual. An example would be someone harassing another person through verbal, text or online abuse or through malicious complaints.
How would examining hate incidents help prevent hate crimes?
While the names of individuals involved in hate incidents must be kept confidential, the details and data about hate incidents offer an overview of trends and specific red flags, which if analyzed foretell the need for intervention. For example, data on hate incidents concerning trends, motivation and geographic hot spots could help to alert schools, social service agencies or Village staff to bring programming or more intensive sessions to the at-risk community.
The Skokie Police Department began tracking all bias or hate-related incidents on January 1, 2022 in anticipation of this program and for its own initiative. The Human Relations Commission would analyze the data with input from experts in the field and offer programs from organizations and professionals to address and intervene in the bias or hate incidents indicated in the community.