Hate crimes against Black Chicagoans are up 50%, according to the Chicago Commission on Human Relations.
Commissioner Nancy Andrade said during a budget committee hearing on Oct. 20 that Black people are one of the most frequently targeted groups for hate crimes. The agency received reports of 16 hate crimes against Black Chicagoans as of last month, while the Chicago Police Department has received 27 anti-Black hate crime reports so far this year.
Jeannine Bell, Curt and Linda Rodin Professor of Law and Social Justice at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, and Karen Freeman-Wilson, President and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, agree that the numbers are low for what one would expect for the size of Chicago, which is indicative of unreported crimes.
The Chicago Commission on Human Relations describes hate crimes as acts of bigotry that are committed because of the intended victim’s actual or perceived membership in a certain demographic group.
“The consequences of unreported hate crimes is that you see more hate crimes, more hate speech, more actions against people who are different and you have more victimization,” Freeman-Wilson said.
Victims and survivors of hate crimes might choose to not report because of fear and mistrust of the police, Bell said.
“If the police are not showing themselves as open to the investigation of hate crimes and catching perpetrators, if the police department does not show they are willing to help victims, individuals who are targeted by hate crimes, then there is little impetus to report,” Bell said.
Freeman-Wilson said part of addressing hate crime underreporting is educating individuals on what a hate crime is and where they can go to report and receive help. She said that information should be publicized in places of worship and community-based organizations.